Tips for Keeping Your Property Safe This Winter Season

The winter season is officially upon us, and for the residents of Ottawa and the surrounding area, this inevitably brings snow storms, freezing rain, and other inclement weather conditions. Unfortunately, the season also typically results in an increase in weather-related accidents, such as slips, trips, and falls. These types of accidents often occur on sidewalks and parking lots of both residential and commercial buildings. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, a person who is in physical possession of premises, or a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of those premises, has an obligation to ensure that those premises are reasonably safe.

As the worst of the winter weather approaches, we thought we would share the following tips for keeping your property safe and minimizing the risk of slip, trip, and fall accidents.


  1. Place Mats Outside and Inside Building Entrances – During winter, tenants and visitors may inadvertently trail in mud, water, and wet snow. Installing mats for individuals to dry their feet can help eliminate puddles in the entrance or lobby of your building. Ensure that any such mats adhere well to the floor, so that the mats themselves do not become a tripping hazard.
  2. Mop Wet Floors - have a plan in place to make sure that slippery or wet floors are taken care of regularly.
  3. Fix Sidewalk Cracks – Seal any visible cracks in sidewalks, to prevent trips and falls as well as further deterioration that may lead to depressions and potholes.
  4. Inspect Roof – Check for any loose shingles and for places where water might collect and possibly leak through the roof and ceiling, causing puddles inside the building.
  5. Have Salt, Sand and/or Chemical De-icers on Hand – these are essential to being able to respond quickly to icy or slippery surfaces.
  6. Inspect HVAC System – Clean and perform regular maintenance of your HVAC system to ensure systems keep running efficiently, including changing air filters to improve efficiency and indoor air quality. Inspecting your HVAC system is important as accidents involving heaters during the winter are not uncommon.
  7. Schedule Regular Maintenance for Snow and Ice Removal – Private property owners are responsible for keeping their driveways, walkways, stairs, etc., safe for anyone entering their property. Businesses and apartment owners in particular need to ensure that they regularly inspect and promptly attend to snow or ice that accumulates on their property and may constitute a hazard.
  8. Inspect Doors and Windows – Doors and windows provide an outlet for warm indoor air to escape and for water to leak in. Ensure that there are no cracks and holes in either and, if there are, have them fixed as quickly as possible.
  9. Clean Gutters – Roof gutters clogged with leaves and branches can trap water, which can lead to roof damage and subsequent leakage problems.
  10. Be Vigilant  – Inspect your property with reasonable frequency and exercise prudence and caution in hiring trustworthy and appropriate contractors to complete any needed work or services for the property.  

It is also important to know that in June 2016, the City of Ottawa announced a few changes regarding citywide plow services. These changes include:

  • Rather than 7 centimeters, snowplows will be deployed on residential streets after 10 centimeters of snow have accumulated.
  • Plows will reverse their route so they do not travel the same direction every time, which will avoid the same streets always being plowed first or last.
  • The side of the street being plowed will also be alternated, to avoid the accumulation of large snow banks on only one side of the street.

Winter weather brings with it a number of challenges for all of us, including those responsible for keeping premises safe. By being aware of circumstances that increase the risk of injury, and responding promptly to fix dangerous conditions, we can substantially decrease the likelihood that someone will slip, trip and fall and sustain serious injury, and can also reduce our potential liability due to an accident. 

At Burn Tucker Lachaîne, we encourage everyone to take care in the upcoming winter weather, which includes driving defensively and taking measures to ensure that your property is well maintained. 


By Burn Tucker Lachaîne Personal Injury Lawyers on November 24, 2016
Tags: Negligence, Personal Injury, Safety