When many people have guests at their homes, their biggest concerns are whether those guests are comfortable and enjoying themselves.
Unfortunately, homeowners often fail to realize that they may be inadvertently putting their guests at risk of serious injuries because of slip and trip hazards—especially in their yards and on their porches.
To keep your home safe (and to protect yourself from liability), consider these tips for improving your guests’ safety before your next get-together.
Remove Hazards Such as Garden Tools and Toys from Your Lawn
A well-kept lawn adds curb appeal and beauty to any home, but grass can hide dangers and hazards. Before letting guests step onto your lawn, inspect it for potential hazards. Some of the most common trip hazards in lawns include garden hoses and children’s toys.
You should also be on the lookout for small holes in your lawn, whether they’re formed naturally or by animals. Guests can become seriously injured if they step into these holes and trip and fall. Injuries caused by holes in people’s lawns can range from twisted ankles to torn ligaments to broken bones.
Inspect and Repair Broken Stairs
Stairs are among the most common trip hazards. Stairs can be extremely dangerous when they are inconsistent in width and rise, have wobbly or broken railings, or are slippery due to weather conditions.
Check any steps heading up to your front door and into your backyard for signs of damage, unevenness, and excessive wear. If your stairs are painted, they may become slippery when wet. In this case, consider using skid-resistant paint or placing grip surfaces on top of them to keep you, your family, and your guests safe.
Ensure Your Outdoor Area is Well-Lit at Night
Even if your lawn, walkway, and porch are free from hazards, your guests can still be seriously injured if they can’t see where they’re going. Outdoor lighting isn’t needed during the daytime, but it can make a big difference at night. Without adequate lighting, guests may accidentally step into flower beds or miss a step when entering or exiting your home.
Test your outdoor lighting setup by walking around outside your home at night in both your front and backyard. Your porch light may provide adequate lighting on its own, especially if it’s a high-watt bulb. If you need additional lighting, you may consider adding lights along your walkway, in your lawn, or along your porch stairs.
Place Barriers in Front of Retaining Walls
Retaining walls can help homeowners gain more usable space in their lawns, but they can also create trip hazards. Even small retaining walls for flower beds and landscape designs can be dangerous when people don’t see them or aren’t aware there are drop-offs next to them.
If you have retaining walls in your lawn, keep guests safe by placing plants or fencing in front of them. You should also have your retaining walls inspected periodically to ensure they’re in good condition and aren’t in danger of collapsing, as the added weight of several guests on top of one can make it fail.
Ensure All Surfaces Are Level
Over time, driveways, sidewalks, walkways, patios, and porches can become unlevel due to wear and tear, settling, and erosion. Unlevel surfaces present trip hazards, as people subconsciously expect walkways to be level and don’t anticipate sudden rises or drops while walking.
Check for any large cracks in paved surfaces or loose boards on porches. Using a level can also help you spot potential hazards if visual inspection isn’t enough to determine if your guests might be in danger.
Rake Up Leaves During the Fall and Winter
Dead leaves aren’t just unsightly when they accumulate in your yard and on your walkways; they can also create slip and trip hazards. When they get wet, dead leaves can become extremely slippery, especially when they collect on already slick surfaces like smooth pavement and porch steps.
Take the time to gather dead leaves as they fall during the fall and winter. Be sure to rake up leaves that accumulate on top of potential dangers in your yard, including small rocks, utility boxes, and other objects that guests and children may trip over.
Call Our Syracuse Slip and Fall Lawyers After an Injury On Someone Else’s Property
You work hard to keep your own property and home safe for guests, but not everyone fulfills this important responsibility. Every time you step foot on another person’s property, you face risks. As mentioned throughout this blog, hazards can lurk everywhere—including before you even step foot in a person’s home.
If you or someone you love is injured on another person’s property, we want to help you get the compensation you’re owed. Contact Catalano Law anytime for a free consultation. We know New York’s premises liability laws, and we know how to win.