Is Your Home Safe for Holiday Visitors?

As we flip the calendar to December, we begin to welcome friends and families to share holiday joy in our homes.  Some of us may even be making plans to welcome a certain jolly old elf in a bright red suit.  But how do we know our driveways, and walkways (and chimneys!) are safe for our visitors when they enter our home?

Driveways – to salt or sand?

Both salt and sand are popular options for dealing with icy driveways and walkways in the winter months. Whether you choose salt or sand, or some combination of both, you’ll want to ensure that your guests have a clear and safe entrance on to and off of your property lest you run afoul of your obligations under the Occupiers Liability Act.

Each ice control method has its pros and cons.

Salt Sand
  • Works by melting ice
  • Quick and effective way to clear ice off of driveways and walkways
  • Can damage surfaces below the ice that one intends to clear
  • May have negative environmental impacts
  • Does not work well in temperatures less than -9 degrees
  • Works by creating traction on the ice
  • Works at any temperature
  • Will need to be reapplied if covered by snow
  • Can make for some messy cleanup in the spring (and in the house)
  • Sand build-up can cause drainage issues

After you’ve finished de-icing your driveway, you’ll want to ensure the mighty snowbanks that you’ve just shoveled onto either side of your driveway do not impede driver visibility for motorists backing out, those who are driving along the roadway, or even pedestrians trying to navigate sidewalks and roadways. An accident caused by a visibility hazard that you have created on your property could see you named as a target defendant.

Porches and Entryways

Make sure your doorways are well lit and that holiday decorations , wires and extension cords are firmly fastened so they do not pose a tripping hazard in your entry way. Extensions cords and electrical decorations used outside should be those marked as suitable for outdoor use.

Be sure to clear all icicles over your porch, stairs and entryways that might cause serious injuries to visitors.


There is likely little to be concerned about with respect to visitors who arrive by chimney – we’re pretty sure Santa’s magic takes care of things! Before lighting a fire, ensure that there are no flammable materials nearby (such as decorated coniferous trees or wrapping paper) and remove all stockings from the mantle. Never leave children unattended near a hot fireplace and make sure to extinguish it fully before bed. And remember to blow-out all those holiday candles too!

One final note with respect to any visitors who arrive by chimney, we strongly advise you to leave a holiday treat of milk and cookies near your fireplace entrance as it should enhance both the quality and quantity of the gifts left behind.

Happy (and safe) Holidays from OTLA!


Contributed by Angela Comella, Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers

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Angela first joined Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers as a summer student in 2004. It was during this time that she developed a passion for advocacy on behalf of injured persons and their families. In September 2005, after a successful completion of the Bar Admission Course, she returned to the firm as an articling student. Angela was called to the Bar in July 2006. Her practice is focused on personal injury matters, medical malpractice, disability law and criminal injuries compensation.

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