Taking a look at winter hazards and important safety tips to help mitigate them. As winter descends upon us, a light dusting of snow can add a little magic to your day as well as a lot of hazards. Let’s have a look at some of the most common winter hazards and important safety tips to help mitigate each of them. Following these tips will save you many headaches and could even save your life.
Getting to the Car
The most dangerous thing you do every day is likely driving, and in the winter, the risk is compounded. Just getting to your vehicle can be a formidable task, almost comical if it weren’t so perilous. For vehicle entry and egress, remember to:
- Wear appropriate footwear for outdoor winter weather. Bring along other shoes and put them on once indoors. Consider wearing traction enhancing devices like Yaktrax and STABILicers.
- Park in authorized or cleared parking spaces. Avoid spaces where ice is likely to lurk.
- Keep your hands free and use the door, steering wheel, or other surface for support.
- Do not carry too much, and place items into your vehicle, while in a supported stance, before you enter. When exiting, grab your items once you’re out of the vehicle rather than hoisting them out with you.
- Take short steps at a slower pace. This helps to maximize footwear contact with the ground and keeps you more centered over your base of support.
Winter Driving and Tire Safety
So, you’ve made it to your vehicle: congratulations. Maybe that has relieved a little pressure? Now it’s time to think about tire safety and winter driving:
- Select the appropriate tire for the conditions in which you are driving. Snow tires provide better traction in the snow than all-season tires, but they need to be changed seasonally.
- Frequent inspection, regular tire rotation, and proper inflation pressure are vital for tires and vehicle performance.
- Allow plenty of time for travel and familiarize yourself with weather conditions and the route you are driving, in advance, with maps and directions. Allow time to clear the snow off your vehicle—particularly snow/ice accumulation from the windshield—and always check to ensure the tail pipe is not covered or clogged with snow to prevent possible carbon monoxide exposure.
- Cell phones and electronic devices need to be put away when operating a vehicle to avoid distracted driving, throughout the year and especially during winter.
- Keep sand and a shovel in your vehicle in case you need to add traction to ground surfaces that are icy and dicey. Keep an emergency travel kit in your vehicle that includes the following: a flashlight, jumper cables, kitty litter or other coarse friction enhancing material, snow brush/ice scraper, warning devices, blankets, energy-boosting snacks, and water.
On the cusp of winter, mid-October to early December is a dangerous time for drivers as it’s deer mating season, otherwise known as the rut. Deer are typically most active during dusk and dawn, so please pay attention to the amber caution signs placed intentionally where wildlife activity is the highest. If you see a deer crossing the road, more than likely there will be more, so be alert for more. If you are in one of the 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions that occur each year, do not immediately exit your vehicle to check on the wounded deer. Don’t put yourself at risk of being hit by another moving vehicle.
The winter season offers a lot of enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts, but it can also spell disaster for the unprepared. Project RoadSafe provides a lot of education on preventing slips, trips, and falls as they constitute our leading injury loss source in both claim frequency and severity. In a typical month, we may see 460 STF claims, but that increases to more than 700 per month when factoring in ice and parking lot/vehicle-related STFs. It is not uncommon for a STF to cost more than $125,000. We’ve even seen someone rendered a paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury from a slip and fall in a parking lot with the medical and wage replacement costs at nearly $1.5 million. For the safety of yourself and others, please sand and salt diligently, and make sure your Company fleet policy is up to date of employee requirements during winter conditions.