Whether you’re expecting a package delivery or friends are coming over, a homeowner is obligated to make the grounds safe for all visitors. This involves reducing slip, trip and fall risks on your property and calling attention to those beyond your control, like a cracked step that has yet to be fixed.

These preventative actions can help reduce the risk of someone experiencing a slip and fall injury on your property. Should an accident occur, your efforts to eliminate potential hazards can lessen the chances you will be found liable for any resulting injuries. How can you identify these risks around your home?

Take a Comprehensive Approach

man climbing slippery stairs in winterTo reduce slip and fall risks around your property, survey the interior and exterior for hazards. Factor in seasonal changes like snow or windstorms and have a plan to mitigate any risks associated with slippery surfaces or large objects that could become a trip hazard.

Fall injuries can range from minor scrapes and bruises to life-changing consequences. Based on figures from the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are responsible for half of all accidental fatalities at home and continue to be the leading cause of emergency room visits.

General Slip and Fall Hazards Around the Home

You may consider your home to be safe, but you’re familiar with the space. For visitors, the following factors can become slip, trip or fall hazards:

  • Slippery surfaces, from newly waxed floors to an icy driveway
  • Clutter in rooms, hallways and storage spaces
  • Poorly maintained stairs, porches and decks
  • New construction as upgrades are being made
  • Cracks and potholes on the walkway that have yet to be repaired
  • Loose rugs and carpets
  • No or low lighting
  • Loose or unsecured wires, cords and cables
  • Puddles of water in the bathroom, basement or outdoor areas
  • Older or poorly maintained furniture

Reducing Slip and Fall Injuries at Home

To create a truly safe property for your family, friends and guests, examine the following:

  • Lighting: Especially for properties set back from the street, make sure anyone arriving can see where they’re going. This includes adequate lighting for the driveway, porch and walkways.
  • Gutters and Downspouts: These structures prevent water accumulation on your roof but can direct the flow of water to an area where it may pool. Especially in winter, an ice patch can quickly develop so watch where gutters and downspouts divert water.
  • Spills: This could be a glass of water in the kitchen or a motor oil leak in the driveway. Have a plan to efficiently clean up any spills and alert others when they occur.
  • Rugs, Carpets and Flooring: Avoid using rugs that move around when walked on. Any flooring that is loose, uneven or weak in areas should also be identified and repaired as soon as possible. Consider using double-sided carpet tape to hold rugs in place.
  • Railings: Although railings offer a degree of stability, they can become loose and no longer provide sufficient support. Ensure your railings can deliver support in both dry and wet conditions and make repairs if you notice damage or a lack of stability.
  • Walkways: Add traction wherever people will be walking on your property. This could be mats, textured stone, concrete or sand after a snowstorm. Also make an effort to remove any leaves, shrub overgrowth and other objects that could become a trip hazard. Broken stones and pavers should be repaired as soon as possible too.
  • Cracks and Holes: On dirt and paved surfaces, any cracks or potholes should be closed off with a visible barrier until they can be filled.
  • Trip Hazards: Objects blocking a path immediately become a trip hazard. Tuck away cords and wires, never store boxes in a hallway and keep equipment in a separate, dedicated area to prevent these accidents.
  • Control Sources of Water: From sprinklers to plumbing and appliances, make sure any source of water is controlled and flows along a specific path. Avoid having water pool around your property.
  • Stairs: Make sure all stair runners are sturdy and have a slip-resistant surface. For added stability, install a railing along each staircase and wall-mounted gates to restrict kids from accessing the stairs.
  • Seasonal Factors: Snow and ice accumulation should be removed within a reasonable amount of time and paths shoveled where guests may be walking.

What to Do If a Slip and Fall Injury Occurs on Your Property

What happens if you have addressed the potential hazards but a slip and fall injury still occurs on your property?

  • Document what happened, including who was involved, when the accident occurred and the conditions surrounding the incident.
  • Take pictures where the incident happened.
  • Get medical attention for the injured person.
  • If you don’t already have it, get the injured person’s contact information.
  • Contact your insurance carrier to report the incident if the injury warrants a homeowner’s claim.

If you’re the victim of a slip and fall accident due to another homeowner’s negligence, contact Trantolo & Trantolo to pursue a claim today.