Whooshing down the side of a hill or mountain on a tube or pair of skis can be dangerous if you are not careful; but so can walking on sidewalks.
In fact, the majority of injuries seen in the emergency rooms of local hospitals result from falls on ice- and snow-covered sidewalks and streets."We see a lot of fractures just from people falling," said Wayne Watson, director of the emergency center at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Most Utah County cities have ordinances requiring property owners or tenants to clear sidewalks of snow within a reasonable period of time following a snowfall.
For example, Provo's ordinance says that any time snow depth exceeds 1 inch it must be removed within 12 hours, and at least once in a 24-hour period in which there is continual snowfall.
Failure to keep sidewalks clear may cause the property owner or tenant to be charged with a misdemeanor violation; however, in most cities, actual enforcement of the law seldom occurs. That does not prevent property owners or tenants from being held liable for any injuries that occur in a fall on their property.
Sally Harding, Provo City ombudsman, said this year she already has received 15 to 20 complaints about snow-covered sidewalks, which evokes response by the city's Police Department.
"We have lots of good neighbors in the city who remove snow for themselves and their neighbors," Harding said. "When the road grader comes through, the snow often ends up back on the sidewalk. And then I get lots of angry calls from residents."
Harding said there is little that city crews can do to avoid pushing some snow back on to the sidewalks as they clear the streets.
"It does pose a problem," Harding said. "It takes teamwork and understanding (on the part of the residents)."