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Safety tips for winter storms in New York

Winter draws closer every day, and you know it is going to bring severe storms that blanket New York in snow and ice. It happens every year, and it leads to accidents and injuries. While these incidents may start with serious car accidents, it is important to remember that snow is a hazard anywhere. Many people get hurt in slip-and-fall accidents on uncleared sidewalks, for instance. Others fall in parking lots or at bus stops.

Do not underestimate the damage that a simple fall can do. Broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, cuts and lacerations: Winter weather leads to every type of injury you can imagine.

How can you stay safe? Here are a few tips from the local Department of Emergency Services:

  • Always shovel off the sidewalk that runs along the front of your property. The law requires that every property owner does this. Not only does it keep you safe, but it allows others to move about the neighborhood without risking an injury.
  • Exercise caution when clearing snow. If you cannot do it all at once, just do what you can. Strive for moderation. Take breaks if you need them. If you never exercise or have a medical condition, excessive shoveling can be dangerous.
  • Clear off the fire hydrants if you have them near your property. In an emergency, firefighters do not want to spend time clearing the hydrant in order to use it.
  • Shovel the snow into your yard, not into the street or onto the neighbor's sidewalk. Doing the latter can be hazardous for others, it can create dangerous conditions that lead to car accidents, and it also means that the snow just gets pushed back where it came from when a plow comes through.
  • Care for the elderly. Check on them after a heavy storm. Help them clear their snow. The elderly should not have to do this on their own, as there are serious risks from falls and heart attacks.
  • Never drive while your car is covered in snow. Always brush it off first to provide yourself with maximum visibility.
  • Remember that falling ice and snow can also prove very dangerous. Check your roof and your gutters. Watch out for anything that falls and preemptively clear hazards if you can.
  • Get ready for potential power outages. Take steps to prepare. Do your safety work -- clearing snow, etc -- in advance. If your power does go out and you have to leave, you want to have the sidewalks already cleared off first.

Even if you follow these tips, that does not mean everyone else will. A neighbor who neglects to clear snow and ice promptly could cause you serious injuries. Be sure you know what legal options you have to seek compensation.

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