It’s Fall Alright! Managing Leaves for Safe Sidewalks

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Leaf Accumulation and Homeowners Liability Risk

Homeowners know to remove ice and snow from the pathways leading to and from their doors. The risk of a slip and fall is too high to ignore as friends, family, neighbors, and Amazon delivery drivers frequent the property. But the autumn and winter in BC also leave another threat that you may not consider to be a liability risk – fallen leaves. 

While they may form fun piles for the neighborhood kids to play in, leaves left unattended can cost you a small fortune. Don’t let Mother Nature run her course and wait for the wind to whisk them away. Instead, remove them from your pathways and sidewalks today. Here’s what you need to know.

How Fallen Leaves Can Create a Liability Risk for Homeowners and What You Can Do About It

Leaf Accumulation Creates a Slip and Fall Hazard

Rain or dew on fallen leaves is proverbial kindle to flame. The result is a slippery pile of organic material that rarely has a chance to dry amidst BC’s rainy season. The more compacted the accumulation becomes, the slipperier it gets. One wrong step and a visitor or random pedestrian will lose their footing, fall, and sustain an injury that could cause them to miss work or worse. 

Leaf Accumulation Creates a Road Hazard Around Your Property Too

You don’t shovel snow from your property onto the street where there is ongoing traffic. Doing so can cause an accident. You must consider the same when leaves are allowed to accumulate on your property and spill over on to the road. In fact, a recent study conducted by Ford engineers found that at their most slippery, leaves measure a µ-level (coefficient of friction) between 0.3 and 0.4, which is approximately the same µ-levels observed on snow covered surfaces.

While it’s unlikely that a successful claim can be made against your homeowners policy in such a case there is a civil duty to consider. Plus, there is nothing to stop a driver from attempting to take you to claims court, with an ensuing battle costing you all the same. In addition, you create a road safety hazard for own household when pulling out of your driveway onto a slippery sheet of fallen leaves.

Leaves Cover Other Hazardous Obstacles 

Piles of leaves also hide obstacles that may cause visitors and the passing public to trip and sustain an injury. On your physical property they may cover outdoor electrical cables, toys, landscaping tools, and more. On the sidewalk (in front of your home) they can hide protrusions in the concrete, large stones, or uneven surfaces that can cause someone to trip.

How to Safely Remove or Use! Leaves from Your Property

Leave the leaf-blower at Home Depot. While fun to use, they do exactly as the name states – they blow leaves. When you do this, the leaves are blown into the nooks and crannies of your property. All it takes is a little wind to deliver them right back to the pathways surrounding your home. Or, you may end up blowing them onto neighboring properties. Not only will this frustrate your neighbors, doing so can put them at liability risk for the same issues you’re trying to avoid.

Instead, you’ll need to employ some good old fashioned labor. Rake the leaves, gather them up, place them in the appropriate composting receptacle. Ideally leaving some mulched leaves on your lawn or in your planter beds is great for the environment. Decomposing leaves suppress weeds and fertilize the soil. And who doesn’t love butterflies?! The David Suzuki Foundation tells us “Those brown, dead leaves are the planet’s butterfly nursery. They’re home to butterfly larvae, microbes and worms. And leaf litter is where many species of butterflies and moths overwinter as pupae.”  So, try to maintain some mulched leaves on your green spaces to support the environment, while keeping your pathways and sidewalks clear and risk-free.

If your household is not up for it, hire a neighborhood kid to do the duty. Their parents will appreciate anything that gets them through the screen door away from a digital screen!

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