From holiday parties to family get-togethers or boutique parties, if you enjoy entertaining guests in your home, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to liability claims for falls or injuries. Here are some tips for proactively preventing falls and other mishaps in your home, especially during those harsh Toronto winters.

Safe walkways

Some of the biggest personal safety issues, especially during inclement winter weather, are slipping or tripping hazards when entering and leaving your home. Take a moment to review the driveway and entryway areas for potential hazards, such as uneven pavements or walkways, tree roots, or cluttered porch stairs that could present tripping hazards for the elderly or people with limited mobility, or even guests who become impaired during the party.

One easy thing to do is to notify guests during your invitation to watch their step when they arrive. If the hazard is something not easily fixed, another practical solution is to mark things like tree roots in a walkway clearly, such as with brightly-colored duct tape or safety tape. Ensure garden hoses or other lawncare equipment is safely stored away from the walkway.

If the ground approaching your home is extremely uneven or rocky, temporary solutions like a solid, even layer of packed-down mulch or fine gravel could improve conditions. But in general, try to provide the most even, tactile surface possible for your guests to enter your home.

If guests are coming or going during the evening hours, adequate walkway lighting to the driveway or street is a must. If you don’t have permanent lighting installed already, there are several temporary solutions ranging from individual solar-powered lawn lights to a string of Christmas or rope lights near the ground, or even strategically-placed battery-operated tealights.  Make sure stairs and uneven ground are well-lit whenever possible.

During icy or snowy weather, shovel a safe walking area at least 32 inches (81 centimeters) wide, and make sure to salt or sand slippery surfaces thoroughly, re-applying as needed. Clear snow and icicles from the roof over the entryway to prevent injuries from ice and snow sheets tumbling onto your guests. During heavy rains, monitor your yard and driveway for flooding or pooling, as this can present walking hazards, depending on the depth of water or speed of overflow.

Safe flooring

Anytime you have a gathering at your home, there are likely to be spills, especially if alcoholic beverages are involved. Quickly identifying and cleaning up slippery floors will help to keep your guests safe. You might place a chair on top of the spill or have a guest watch the area to prevent people from walking through while you get the necessary items for cleanup.

If you typically prefer that guests remove their shoes, try handing out economical non-skid booties instead, as certain kinds of dress socks render hardwood and tile floors more slippery.

Safe railing and decking

Make sure all railways on stairs are secure and that the stairs are free of clutter or tripping hazards. Inspect all deck railings to make sure none are loose, and inspect the deck for loose floorboards that might be sticking up on one end to pose a tripping hazard. If your property has a pool, ensure all access points to the pool area are secured and gate locks are in working order.

Being able to show that you performed every possible precaution prior to having guests over goes a long way toward preventing injuries and the resultant liability claims. However, should one arise, it’s best to have an professional in your corner. If a suggestion of a potential lawsuit exists, don’t hesitate to look for the best personal injury lawyer in Toronto for a personalized review of your case and some expert advice.