Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Slip ‘n’ slide: Icy sidewalks pose slick hazard for those on foot

January 17, 2007


Watch your step.

Icy sidewalks and parking lots are leading to a "remarkable" number of injuries this week, according to a local emergency room physician.

And the treacherous icy conditions are expected to continue for a few days, said Jennifer Schack, 6News meteorologist.

"It's even more dangerous when you start that melting process, slowly," she said.

As temperatures climb to 26 today, the sun will melt the top layer of the ice - but that just makes it wet and slick, Schack said. She said temperatures won't climb above freezing until Friday, when it hits 33 degrees.

Treacherous footing

"Just watch where you're walking."

That's the advice Mary Sims provided as she rested Tuesday afternoon in a bed in Lawrence Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

Sims suffered a dislocated shoulder after losing her footing on the ice about noon at the IHOP restaurant at 31st and Iowa streets.

"I should have stayed home today," Sims said, laughing. "My shoulder's feeling a lot better now. I'll probably be in a sling, I imagine."

Sims, a former Lawrence resident who retired and moved to Ottawa about a year and a half ago, said she had her mishap when she got out of her car at the restaurant.

"I took two steps and I knew I was in trouble," she said. "Boy I really flew. I hit my head, but not very hard. I really landed on my shoulder."

Brian Barland took time in the cold temperatures Tuesday afternoon to break some big pieces of ice-covered snow off the sidewalk in front of Sarah's Fabrics in the 900 block of Massachusetts Street. Slippery sidewalks and parking lots that have been causing injuries will be staying for a while, at least until temperatures in Lawrence reach above freezing. According to 6News meteorologist Jennifer Schack, that will not be until Friday, when it hits 33 degrees.

Brian Barland took time in the cold temperatures Tuesday afternoon to break some big pieces of ice-covered snow off the sidewalk in front of Sarah's Fabrics in the 900 block of Massachusetts Street. Slippery sidewalks and parking lots that have been causing injuries will be staying for a while, at least until temperatures in Lawrence reach above freezing. According to 6News meteorologist Jennifer Schack, that will not be until Friday, when it hits 33 degrees.

Sims said there were some young people around in the parking lot who came to her aid.

"One girl sat with me until the ambulance got there," she said. "Everybody was really nice out there."

Belinda Rehmer, an LMH communications coordinator, said the hospital had seen numerous patients in the last two days.

"We've seen between 20 and 25 patients in the last day or so that had specifically slipped on the ice," Rehmer said.

Variety of injuries

"It's remarkable how many injuries have occurred over the past three to four days," said Brian Hunt, an emergency physician at LMH.

People have been falling and hitting their heads, hurting their shoulders, fracturing their arms, dislocating their shoulders and fracturing legs, Hunt said.

"When they get out of vehicles, their legs go up underneath them," he said. "Age doesn't matter right now. We're seeing a wide range of people."

One man came in who had fallen and hit his head as he was walking from his house to his garage.

"He's getting a CAT scan of his head right now," Hunt said. "We see a potpourri of these during the winter, but never in such mass quantities. ... There are people who are going to need surgery to repair their injuries," he said.

Getting rid of it

The city's sidewalk ordinance requires homeowners to clear the snow away from the sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the snow has fallen - or put sand on it if it couldn't be easily removed.

However, Brian Jimenez, code enforcement officer for the city, said he hadn't received any complaints about the ice still remaining on sidewalks.

Rick Gammill, director of special operations, transportation and safety for Lawrence public schools, said a parent fell Tuesday morning on the ice at the East Heights Early Childhood Family Center, 1430 Haskell Ave., but no ambulance was called.

Gammill said most of the ice had been removed from around schools, but it had taken longer because it had to be chipped away.

"Our guys worked all weekend long," he said. "The best way to get rid of the ice is warm weather."


bearded_gnome 10 years, 8 months ago

they're not exaggerating in this article! it is really bad. as you walk along, some ice might have a good texture and be quite walkable, then suddenly, its profoundly slick! be careful!

Adrienne Sanders 10 years, 8 months ago

You know what would be awesome? If all the owners of all the rental properties would at the very least spread some sand around... or hire someone to do it... or give a tenant a break on the rent to do it for them. In general they do not a thing to clear their properties which is a hazard for tenants and passers-by alike.

average 10 years, 8 months ago

Yaktrax (and I assume other similar products)... worth it to me, even if only for 5 days a year.

Jamesaust 10 years, 8 months ago

"Icy sidewalks pose slick hazard for those on foot"

Could they really?

MeeMa8 10 years, 8 months ago

What about the walking/biking sidewalk along Peterson Road. I assume that it is the responsibility of the city. Not only has it not been cleared, the snow plows threw all of their icy mess all over the sidewalk on top of what was already there.

Mama 10 years, 8 months ago

Our home sits on almost an acre lot so we have a considerable bit of sidewalk to clear...which I'm proud to say my husband chipped ALL the ice off and it's absolutely clear. Have any of our neighbors? Hardly. And as I drove to work today, look at the sidewalks up and down Wakarusa Drive. NONE of the businesses have done squat to the sidewalks. Shameful.

tir 10 years, 8 months ago

Yaktrax are awesome. I haven't fallen down on icy sidewalks since I got mine.

People should still clear their walks, though.

budwhysir 10 years, 8 months ago

I didnt find walking to much of a problem cause I rode my bike. This was a major problem. I had to put chains on my tires and everything. Glad it is gone

bthom37 10 years, 8 months ago

Here is the text of an email I sent City Hall and the Public Works department:

To whom it may concern;

I work at the I70 Business Plaza, for Home Oxygen 2-U. The parking lot at the I70 Business Plaza has not been plowed, sanded, or salted at all this winter. Currently, the parking lot more closely resembles a place to pack up the kiddies to go skating than a place to park cars. While I am aware that this is a private lot, there are 2 state agencies (DMV and the Highway Patrol Inspection office) there, in addition to Protection One's headquarters, Home Oxygen 2-U, and the Lawrence Bridge Club. Watching student drivers try to start their driving test there, in addition to watching the generally elderly members of the Lawrence Bridge Club try to navigate the ice, is a painful experience. From our office we have seen children fall on the ice, elderly folks fall on the ice, multiple (15-20) cars slide into curbs, and just today one of my co-worker's car was slid into by another car.

The landlord has assured us that the lot will be cleaned tomorrow morning, which is 3 days too late. Surely there is something the city can do in the future, or even tomorrow if the lot is not cleaned, which sadly would not surprise me. Plow trucks regularly turn around in the lot to get back onto 2nd street, raising their plows as they go around the lot. Can they not drop their blades in the future?

For many people, travelling to the DMV or Highway Patrol Office is not an optional event; and leaving those people to slide around and risk injury to themselves or their autos is not the actions of a responsible landlord or city.

gccs14r 10 years, 8 months ago

I've been in Lawrence for 15 years, all of it in rental properties. Every time there is snow or ice, I go out to shovel. Sure, it's not my property, but I'm not going to wait for a landlord to come by with a handful of sand when I can do the job immediately and enjoy clean, dry sidewalks days before my unshoveled neighbors even begin to melt.

Shoveling: it's not just the law, it's the right thing to do. Besides, the exercise will do you some good.

budwhysir 10 years, 8 months ago


Wouldnt it be the landlord or business owners responsibility to keep that lot clear?? Our tax dollars pay to have the city streets and county roads cleared. They dont come by and plow my driveway for me.

cowboy 10 years, 8 months ago

You poor helpless things , how do you get across town on your own. gccs14r has it right , shovel it while its soft. When its zero out after an ice storm the salt does not even melt it. The plows dont move it either unless you have a big loader , then it tears up the concrete pretty bad . Nature is messy some tmes and during these ya just have to wait a few days. Stay in , watch a movie , take a chill pill

AlligatorMama 10 years, 8 months ago

I fell in the LMH parking lot and fractured my wrist. It's amazing how you are walking great one minute and the next you are down. I think most people do the best they can on sanding and shoveling, though I have to say this time most areas weren't done well. Dr. Hunt ( featured in this article ) treated me and was wonderful! Every person in the ER that was from some sort of ice/snow related injury!

bearded_gnome 10 years, 8 months ago

well, quite a day's comments on here, we've been busy, haven't we?

I should have added to my first comments, yesterday, while walking Gnomedog, I also slipped on an uncleared sidewalk, luckily I did not cause anything worse than a little stiffness and sore muscles. apparently I mostly fell on an unbreakable portion of my anatomy: my head. scarf and cap and a very hard head, and am okay. could use a massage though.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 8 months ago

I have tried clearing this crap from my sidewalks here. It's practically impossible. After it had been there for a little while, it stuck like glue, and you'd practically need a sledgehammer to get it loose.

Salt doesn't work on ice when the temps are too low, as they have been the past few days. Sand doesn't give you that much traction anyway, and might even make it worse. Have you ever driven on a dry road that had had sand on it, after the snow and ice were gone? You hit that patch of sand, and you slide like crazy.

gccs14r 10 years, 8 months ago

I was able to get underneath the edge of the ice with a 6" stiff steel shovel and push, which caused the ice to fracture upward. It came loose in big chunks that I could then scoop up with my snow shovel. There's a stretch along 11th east of RI that I may do in a day or so, 'cause there's no way it's melting on its own anytime in the near future.

budwhysir 10 years, 8 months ago

Gnome, sorry to hear about your fall. All kidding aside, Please be carefull out there, dont want anyone getting hurt.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 8 months ago

thanks Bud, as of a few hours ago, the ice was actually more slick in my area! gonna be really fun tonight when temp goes below freezing!

hey, GCCS, thanks for clearing that stretch on 11th.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 8 months ago

I fell on the ice this morning. Luckily, the only injury was a bruised backside.

I was right beside my car, too, hanging on to it, and trying to break off some huge icicles that had formed between the rear fender and tire so they didn't rub while driving, and down I went.

When I got back home, I literally had to use my ice scraper to rough up the surface of the ice next to my door before I could even get out of my car again.

You just can't get any traction on this stuff, folks. And that applies to both sidewalks and roads.

Be extremely careful.

gccs14r 10 years, 8 months ago

np. It's about 165' from the alley to RI and it took me just over an hour. Pretty easy shoveling, actually. I should've had my snow shovel with me, but I wasn't going to walk back home to get it.

gccs14r 10 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Gnome. I just noticed the timestamp on your message. I don't know what part of 11th you saw cleared, but that wasn't my work. I didn't get started until 8:20 this evening.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 8 months ago

oh, guess I was thanking you in advance, based on your statement...or thanking you in a time vacuum?

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