If the weather outside is frightful, then it’s time for you to learn how to take some steps to avoid slip-and-fall accidents on your property and in the classroom.

Children and adults alike are equally as susceptible to this unexpected injury.

Here are some things you should learn about falls in the U.S.:

  • More than 1 million Americans suffer an injury from a slip-and-fall accident each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 17,000 die from these injuries.
  • Slips, trips and falls comprise the leading cause of nonfatal injuries treated annually in the country.
  • These accidents make up about 15% of all job-related injuries.
  • One in three people 65 and older fall every year.
  • About half of slip-and-fall injuries occur at home, and about 24% happen just outside the home.
  • The average cost of a slip-and-fall injury is $28,000 – which includes treatment costs, physical therapy and lost wages.
  • Jury awards can vary greatly, ranging from the amount to cover for medical treatment and lost wages to millions in cases of great pain, suffering or negligence.

Most injuries happen because there is a dangerous situation that you knew about – or should have known about – and didn’t address. You should be aware of potential dangers and how you can make them safer.

Measures you can take inside the home and classroom

  • Put a rug by the door so that people entering can wipe off wet shoes or boots.
  • Make sure stairs and steps remain unobstructed and that railings are secure.
  • Mop up spills immediately.
  • Don’t leave papers scattered on floors or in hallways.
  • Make sure all throw rugs are backed with nonskid matting.
  • Fix tears or bulges in carpets. Also, replace worn carpets and curling vinyl.
  • Don’t allow electrical cords to cross walking areas.
  • Don’t leave drawers open.
  • Monitor uneven areas in floors.
  • Fix any broken steps or handrails.
  • Keep steps clear of clutter.
  • Make sure toys are picked up and stored properly when not in use.
  • If you’re using an extension cord for yard maintenance, put barriers around them warning any visitors to take care.
  • Keep driveways, steps and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Spread salt on ice if you can’t clear it from steps and sidewalks. Even leaves can pose a danger.

Measures you can take so you won’t fall

You don’t want to get sued, and you also don’t want to be in a position where the slip-and-fall happens to you. The chance of serious injury is too great.

Here are some things you can do this and every winter:

  • Wear shoes or boots that will give you traction.
  • Walk slowly. Small steps will give you greater stability.
  • Avoid walking on ice whenever possible. Staying on walkways will help.
  • Don’t carry large loads when it’s slippery out. If you do, be prepared to ditch them so you can use your arms to help break your fall.
  • If you can’t avoid a slippery area, test it first with a toe to see how bad it is before you try putting your full weight on it.
  • Even if they get cold, don’t put your hands in your pockets while walking. It will help you with your balance. If you do fall, your hands and arms can help you land more safely.

A reminder about liability insurance and your home

A standard home insurance policy typically includes liability insurance and Medical Payment coverage, which will help protect you if a visitor is injured on your own property. However, teachers who tutor students at home or conduct any other kind of home business should keep in mind that home insurance likely won’t pay if visitor to your home is there for business purposes. Check with your agent: You may need professional liability coverage.

Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley is the Editor of the HomeInsurance.com Blog.

Dr. Kathy Seifert