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'Tis the season for slips and falls

Don't let icy conditions trip you up

According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls are the number one cause of unintentional injury in the U.S., affecting more than eight million people, 80% of whom are senior adults. To prevent unnecessary injuries among your church members, take a few preventive measures.

Where are the high risk areas?

Good risk management is about reducing liability before someone is injured. While slips and falls can occur at any time of year, they are most likely during winter in wet and icy conditions. High risk areas include:

  • Exterior walkways. Look for puddles or icy patches, uneven surfaces, cracks and potholes.
  • Interior walkways. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, 55% of slips, trips and falls are caused by walk surfaces such as slippery floors and loose carpeting. Keep all walkways in good condition.
  • Building entrances. When slippery conditions exist outdoors, wet shoes can create a slip hazard indoors as well. Make sure you use non-slip walk-off mats at all entrances.
  • Stairs and steps. Stairs and steps should have well-secured handrails. Clearly mark the edges of steps so they can be easily seen.

What can you do to reduce risk?

  1. Keep walkways clear of snow and ice. Make a plan to help keep outdoor surfaces as safe as possible. Check walkways before your services start and again just before they end.
  2. Assign outdoor greeters to assist people to and from their cars. If weather is bad, your greeters can provide umbrella protection and help open car and entrance doors.
  3. Be especially mindful of senior adults and disabled people. Give them assistance as they step in or out of a car and at curbs, stairways and doors.
  4. Keep up your general housekeeping. Keep your floors clean and walkways clear. Clean spills as quickly as possible. Mop floors when few people will be in the area. Remove trip hazards before they become a problem.
  5. Be diligent about repairs. To reduce the risk of falls, make repairs as soon as possible. Pay particular attention to:
    • Uneven sidewalks.
    • Potholes.
    • Loose carpet.
    • Handrails that are not securely fastened.
  6. Improve lighting. Many falls occur because people aren't able to see clearly. To keep your members safe, make sure your walkways, sidewalks and parking lots are well lit. Also check to make sure steps — both indoors and out — are easy to see so people don't stumble.

As you prepare for the holiday season, take time to do preventive maintenance on your property. And keep slips, trips and falls to a minimum.

Want to learn more about the GuideStone Property and Casualty Program? Call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) or visit GuideStonePropertyCasualty.org.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and legal advice to determine appropriate use of suggestions.