By Catherine Reeves, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
Welcome to winter, where the mounds of shoveled snow are taller than your head, where salt covers the roads to prevent icing, and where you can see your breath travel from your mouth and disperse into the chilly air. Winter weather comes with its own unique challenges to stay safe. Freezing temperatures can sometimes catch us off-guard so the best defense in the weather we're currently experiencing is a healthy dose of caution and prevention.
The winter solstice, occurring on Monday, December 21, 2020, is the official first day of winter. It is also the shortest day of the year, marked by the fewest hours of sunlight. On December 21, the sun is set to rise at 7:27 a.m. and set at 4:45 p.m., giving us a total of nine hours and eighteen minutes of sunlight. From that day forward, we will get more and more sunlight per day until the summer solstice in June, when we will have a total of fifteen hours and two minutes of sunlight per day.
With the days being cold and short, many will spend the darker hours indoors, curled up inside of blankets and with hot chocolate, but for those who must traverse the chilly and icy world, the following are some safety tips:
- Wear the right shoes. Even if you are planning on taking just a short walk to your mailbox, make sure that you have the proper footwear. There are countless security videos on the internet of people falling and sliding down their driveways because their shoes did not provide them with good traction. Try to have a good pair of boots that can provide both traction and insulation.
- Assume there is black ice everywhere. When you see bright white snow on the ground, it’s easy to spot and avoid. Slipping on bright white snow is expected, and you are probably more likely to take your time trekking through it. What is unexpected is a sudden slip and fall when you are walking quickly across a blacktop parking lot and unaware of the thin sheet of clear ice between two vehicles. Always take your time and keep an eye out for such dangers when the temperatures are freezing.
- Remember to turn on your lights. With the sun setting around rush hour, it’s easy to forget to flick on your headlights, especially when you are driving among other cars with their headlights on or in a brightly lit neighborhood. However, your headlights not only help you to see, but they help other people see you. Having your headlights on will prevent other people from turning into you because they think there is a gap between cars. Even during the daytime, headlights can help you be seen better in rainy or snowy conditions.
- Don’t take shortcuts. When clearing roads and walkways of snow and ice, property owners will concentrate more on well-traveled paths. Avoid cutting through alleyways that may not be cleared.
- Beware of icicles. As snow melts, it may form jagged icicles hanging from overhangs and lights. It’s possible for these icicles to break anytime, particularly if it’s windy out. Keep your eyes peeled for such dangers that may cause unexpected injuries.
Beware of snow and black ice. Remember, get a grip, don’t slip and fall. From all of us at Metzger Wickersham, we wish you good health and safety.