The Colder Months Are The Deadliest Time of Year: Here's How You Can Protect Yourself

The first snowfall of the year and the countdown to Christmas might be exciting, but the colder months are some of the most dangerous in terms of health and safety. From illnesses to accidents on the road, at home, at work and in public it’s important to take care of yourself and take the necessary precautions. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

At Home

Temperatures dropping can cause disasters in the home. Pipes can expand and contract which can eventually cause them to weaken and burst, which can lead to extensive flood damage. Avoid this by insulating your pipes, you can buy insulating foam cheaply from DIY stores and do this yourself without much technical know-how. Due to wind knocking off roof tiles followed by torrential rain you could end up with leaks in your roof. Fallen leaves can block gutters again leading to leaks that can soak through rendering and cause damage inside the home. Even grease and grime that goes down your kitchen plughole can freeze and lead to a blocked drain. Avoid pouring fatty products down drains or anything else that's likely to block them. One surprising risk in winter is shovelling snow. Many people, even those who seem otherwise healthy have collapsed doing this- it’s so dangerous that it’s recommended those over age fifty five don't shovel snow at all. The reason for this is it’s a lot more taxing than people think. As arm work is more strenuous than leg work it means more effort and the heart has to work harder. Those most at risk are said to be sedentary who go out once a year to clear snow, but if you have an underlying heart or health condition it’s something to be aware of.

On The Roads

Driving in winter comes with additional risks that just aren’t a problem during the rest of the year. First of all, with the run up to Christmas the roads are busier than usual which can present added risks. Plus weather conditions such as rain, snow, sleet and ice all cause slippery road surfaces so it’s very easy to lose control. At the very least it will take longer to brake which is a big issue when it comes to emergencies- in fact ice can cause your stopping distance to be ten times longer than normal. So being cautious while you're driving is more important than ever, not just for your safety but also for your finances. Car troubles and increased insurance costs if you have an accident can be extremely costly. There are checks on the car that you should be doing before long journeys to make sure everything is ok, but be particularly vigilant now. Your wipers should be fully functioning, your fluid levels should be above the minimum line and the brakes should feel firm and work adequately. Planning for a disaster is no bad thing either, get yourself some de-icer, a warning triangle and a hi-vis vest to keep in the car in case of an emergency. It's also advisable to have a torch, warm blankets, thick socks and emergency food and drink too. Another thing to prioritise is your tyres, these are the only part of the car in contact with the ground and can be the difference between life and death. They should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm according to the law, but you can go a step further and invest in some winter tyres. These will give the very best grip when the ground is slippery and can prevent skidding on snow and ice. Any problems with your car can hugely increase the chance of an accident, and whether it's another car or property that's involved, if it’s seen as your fault you will be lumbered with some costly repairs. Sometimes it’s not clear cut who was at fault in an accident, if you invest in a dash cam you will have clear evidence. Sort out some emergency breakdown cover too, if you happen to slip or slide on snow or something goes wrong, you have peace of mind that you won’t be stuck. If you buy cover up front, it will be cheaper than having to call out an emergency breakdown team, so it's better to plan ahead. Finally, when the weather is really bad, only make journeys if you absolutely have to. The more you're out in these conditions, the more likely you are to have an accident, so consider walking, using public transport or just staying home until the bad weather has cleared. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and you need to drive such as to work if you can't take any time off. But think carefully and be extra cautious. Adjust your driving style to fit the conditions, a higher gear will prevent skidding and maintaining a safe separation distance will give you more time to act if you lose control of the car.

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In Public

Just like on the roads, snow and ice on paths mean you could become injured as a pedestrian too. A slip or fall could be very destructive leading to serious injury so it's important to be careful. Tread carefully and make sure you have on proper footwear with decent grip. Take it slowly, leave more time for journeys instead of rushing. Sometimes slips or falls are just an accident, but if you believe yours was a result of neglect then you could be entitled to compensation, says Rand Spear settlement for slip and fall injury. This could be because walkways were left wet with no signs, or a business left their path very icy where the snow wasn't cleared.

In Your Business

If you run your own business, there's no doubt that winter will present a number of challenges to both your premises and your workers- so be aware that things might not run as smoothly as they usually do. If for example one of your employees slips on snow or ice and injures themselves, if it's on your premises you could be sued. Business owners legally have to take reasonable care to make sure people are safe on their property, so if inside or outside of your office becomes slippery due to the weather you should take precautions. You could hire a snow shovel company to clear the snow, or put down salts over the top to prevent slipping. You should always display warning signs in slippery areas too, not only will this cover your back regarding lawsuits but it can prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to running a business in the colder months is the temperature of your working environment. It has to be sixteen degrees Celsius (or thirteen degrees Celsius if the job involves rigorous activity) or employees are allowed to go home. Get a thermometer keep tabs on the temperature, keeping everyone warm enough will prevent low productivity and stop you from possibly losing a day's work due to people leaving. Finally, over the colder months, it's likely you will have some employee absence due to sickness. Things like bugs, colds and flu are much more widespread at this time of year due to more people being indoors and things being passed from person to person. Make sure you’re in a position where you don’t fall too far behind as a result of this, you could sign up to an employment agency who can send you temporary workers out at short notice. You could also aim to get ahead before the cold weather really sets in just in case you experience a dip in productivity over Christmas and the new year.