LU Insider

Beware of Slippery Surfaces

Beware of slippery surfaces in parking lots and around building entrances.

Although we have been spared from the heavy snowfall from the last couple of winter storms that tracked to the south of us. Another winter storm is probably going to dump snow in our area before spring arrives. We can be alert to changing weather forecasts and prepared for the worst and hope for the best. There may be areas in parking lots where snow from a previous storm thaws during the day after salting that can refreeze overnight. During and after future winter storms, remember that the new snowfall can hide any ice that was already there before the snow starting falling. During snowfalls we must slow down our walking pace and keep our center of balance to remain upright.

Even when it’s sunny outside, please don’t let your guard down, there may still be plenty of slippery spots, including “black ice” that forms on blacktop during and after freeze and thaw cycles. We must be extra careful when it’s still dark, what looks like water may be a patch of ice. Flat surfaces can be slippery enough, and adding in ramps and uneven surfaces to the mix of walking routes on campus adds even more possibilities for us to end up on the ground wondering what just happened.

Ramps, stairs and getting in and out of vehicles require our full attention so that we don’t lose our balance and slip and fall. Remember to keep your hands free when walking up ramps and stairs, so that you can hold on to the railing if you start to slip. And also use three points of contact when getting out of your vehicle. Three points of contact means you’re using two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet, to support your body while mounting or dismounting a vehicle, stable platform or ladder. The three points of contact should be broken only after your reach your destination (the ground, vehicle cab, stable platform, etc.).

Ice chunks that have fallen from wheel wells, and then packed down after they are driven over by other vehicles, often create slippery spots in otherwise cleared parking lots. Check for these spots when opening your car door to get out of your vehicle, and when walking up to your vehicle before you get in.

Building entrances may have slippery spots due to ice that melted after salt was applied, and then refreezes later in the day as temperature drops. It also happens in the morning after an overnight refreeze to become a smooth thin layer of ice. Be careful if you’re the first one arriving to your building and the entrance hasn’t been salted yet.

Until we consistently have weather that’s above the freezing point, you should try and avoid walking over areas that look wet (could be black ice), unless traction devices like Yak Trax and other brands of slip protection are used on your shoes.

Please take extra time to get safely to your destination on campus, and watch these videos on walking on snow and ice and avoiding winter slips and falls in parking lots.

Man holding on to railing to keep his balance.
Man getting out of SUV.