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Black Ice: Slipping in Pennsylvania Winters

We usually don’t notice black ice until it’s too late.  The ground looks fine, but one step and a serious injury can occur. Often, black ice means you are in for a fall.

Black ice is just like regular ice: it is frozen water, forming sometimes on roads and sidewalks as sheets (that’s why it’s so hard to spot).  Black ice results from drastic temperature changes: for example, black ice will form in the cooling off after a winter rain or snow shower (or the dreaded “wintry mix”).
Here are some tips for predicting black ice, even if you can’t see it.  Look for:

  • Ice on your windshield, windshield wipers, or side view mirrors
  •  “Frosting” on windows
  •  Icicles hanging from trees, road signs, fences etc.
  •  Ice in shaded areas (colder temperatures)
  •  Slickness on bridges or other paved surfaces

A slip and fall on black ice can cause serious injuries, especially to the fine bones of the hands (see our article on wrist injuries caused by falls) or the tailbone. Ankle fractures are also common injuries from such a fall.  It’s always advisable to note your surroundings and to seek treatment for injuries following a slip and fall on ice.

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