Freezing Rain

It was a rainy, March evening. We were en route to attending a multiple car pile-up five miles from town. The roads were treacherously icy. We approached the crash scene with extreme caution. Bystanders had lit emergency flares. We were just topping the crest of the hill to the crash below, when two cars raced past us. They lost control, crashing into the existing pile-up and adding to the mayhem. Three people were seriously injured…One died.

Freezing rain can happen anytime from fall to spring. It develops when snow falls through a layer of warm air, melts and turns to rain. The rain continues to fall and then passes through a layer of cold air. The cold air, in turn, cools the rain until its temperature falls below freezing. Oddly enough, the rain does not freeze. This is called supercooling. When these supercooled droplets hits the ground, wire or branches, it freezes instantly.

Freezing rain can cause power outages and millions of dollars of damage, not to mention making the routine drive to work an adventure. Often collisions result, ranging from slight fender benders to fatal, multi-car pileups . Hence, if you absolutely must drive during freezing rain, it is wise to remember the following tips.

We rushed to our second call of the morning. A man slipped on his front steps. A fall down three steps had broken his neck and paralyzed from the neck down. This man will most likely be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, all because freezing rain from the night before had coated his steps with a thin layer of ice.

Ambulance workers know that the incidence of fractured hips, ankles, and wrists increase during periods of freezing rain. People seriously injure themselves by falling from their front steps, sidewalks, loading docks, and even from stepping out of their vehicles. Remember, a fall down a few stairs or a slip on a sidewalk can result in an injury that can kill you, or paralyze you for life. So the next time you know there is freezing rain out there, remember: It doesn’t take a fall from a great height to cause a serious injury.

This article was written by Martin Lesperance a fire fighter/paramedic and best selling author. Martin speaks across North America on the topic of injury prevention. For more information or to sign up for his free safety newsletter, go to

This information was taken from the book “I Won’t be in to Work Today - Preventing Injuries at Home, Work, and Play” by Martin Lesperance. To order this book or find out more information, go to and click on books and products. Sign up for his free safety newsletter at Martin delivers speeches across North America on the topic of injury prevention.

Copyright 1997 Safety Health Publishing Inc.

Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter/paramedic and is the author of the best selling book "I Won’t be in to Work Today – Preventing Injuries at Home, Work and Play" Martin delivers keynote presentations dealing with injury prevention. His talks are funny, but still have a strong underlying message. Visit his website at