Holiday Cheer & Seasonal Risks: the Fun Out & About (pt.1)

Seasonal Risks

‘Tis the holiday season!

Which means, ’tis the season for getting together to celebrate out & about and at home!

Excitement is in the air. This time of year brings about a lot of the good- the smiles, the laughter, the reminiscing and reconnecting-  but also, a variety of seasonal risks hanging right alongside those boughs of holly. 

And we’re not talking about a cold or flu bug,

or a key missing ingredient that’s only discovered after the store has closed,

or wondering if Aunt Kathy will actually like your new hairdo.

A lot can happen before that aunt even arrives to the festivities. 

The seasonal risks are present, palpable, and noticeable. There are an average of 160 decoration-related injuries every day during the holiday season, a number of strained back and neck complaints from the contortion we put ourselves through for the sake of decoration and celebration, and a notably higher number of cuts that come on the rise of handling scissors for gift wrapping. 

And these all happen before the holiday celebrations even fully kick off though; many of these seasonal risks arrive with the first frost, the first box of decorations being pulled out of storage, and added to the top of the first list of errands to run.

The Seasons are Changing, and So are the Seasonal Risks

In some places, but not all, winter drifts in with the fluffy atmosphere of falling snow and marshmallows floating in hot cocoa. Though, even the places that don’t often have a wintery white holiday occasionally do. Dallas, Texas experienced the coldest day it had in over 72 years, with temperatures dropping to -2*F  in February of 2021 during a winter freeze, when the average temperature at that time is usually 61*F. Drastic and unfathomable, that and the associated seasonal risks were unlike anything normally prepared for. Not all seasonal risks are as extreme, though.

Picturesque, dramatic, awe striking, or even chaotic or not, there is the level of awareness that is needed to navigate the elements at this time of year. 

Whether out looking at lights, heading to play in the snow, grabbing a spot to see the parade puling Santa Claus by, or popping in and out of the local shops in your town center, that general awareness can (and will!) benefit you. 

Consider this: slipping on ice accounts for 1 million injuries a year, and, tragically, 17,000 deaths. 

These slips can happen almost anywhere and to anyone. Think of where the most foot traffic is and you’ll be thinking of where these sorts of incidents happen the most: on sidewalks. The footpaths that run in front of both businesses and residents alike, sidewalks carry the highest rates of falls, followed by parking lots, and stairs. 

Though the seasonal risks are very present, there are still (careful) steps you can take to not add to this statistic and keep your holiday joyful and void of injury. 

  • – Become aware of freeze and thaw patterns– these patterns will make the probability and presence of ice known. Its is as simple as keeping up with the weather (precipitation and temperature changes). 
  • – Walk slowly and deliberately– avoid rushing or running over slippery ground. Avoid putting yourself in a such time crunch that it may steer you onto a shortcut that is less safe nor maintained as well. 
  • – Choose the right footwear– flat and rubber soles are your best options as they are versatile over the different seasonal risks that may pop up in your path (ice or otherwise)
  • – Pay attention to your surroundings– where are cars coming from? Where are there handrails to grab onto for support? Where are the patches of inconspicuous ice that might catch you off guard.

We’ve advised drivers to not text and drive, but in most icy sidewalk situations, you don’t want to text and walk either! 

Seasonal Risks icy sidewalks

Seasonal Risks: Icy Conditions and Businesses 

A big part of celebrating the holidays that fill the winter months is the tradition of giving gifts. To do that, there is the cheerful process of heading to the local stores and shopping for just the right gift for just the right person.

But with the seasonal risks that come with the holidays, what can be done when you’re not at home?

You’ve taken into account the careful steps listed above that can make your trips to the store that much safer, and have done your part to take care of yourself- but who takes care of the icy conditions found on sidewalks? Who is liable if something happens?

To put it simply: Businesses with frontages- the public facing right-of-ways, including sidewalks, stairs, parking lots, or other public approaches-  are required, in all jurisdictions, to be aware of the elementally posing dangers (including these seasonal risks), and to provide a reasonable level of safety for those using the frontage, permitted or not. 

What exactly does that mean? defines “reasonable” as

“agreeable to reason or sound judgment; logical; capable of rational behavior, decision”

So, if snow is coming, then the user of the space must salt, sand, sweep or shovel the sidewalk, creating continuation of safe passage in light of the weather posing a threat. 

As a business owner, you have the potential coverage for such liabilities within your package policy in the event something happens. If you are curious about what may be contained and covered in a Commercial General Liability policy, visit the Ashland Insurance page for a more detailed dive into it. 

In short though, be reasonable! If you would salt, sand, sweep, or shovel the sidewalk for Grandma, then have a plan in place to do so for the general public!

Steps for businesses to prepare for seasonal risks:

  • – Keep awareness to the changing elements: this includes watching for the coming precipitation in order to be prepared to act accordingly and in appropriate timing.
  • – Clear the accumulation of snow and abate the presence of ice: removing the seasonal risk diminishes the potential of accident substantially.
  • – Ensure safe paths are clearly marked and cleared for secure passage: the buildup of snow can blur lines of where to step and where not to step- even if only a few inches of snow.
  • – Chat with your insurance agent: knowing your policy helps to guide the business as an entity on how to engage with the seasonal risks and ensure the safe engagement with the public as a whole.

Ashland Insurance is just a call away, and here to answer any of your questions regarding the changing seasons, and the seasonal risks that come with

541.482.0831 Ashland

541.857.0679 Medford