Prevent injuries and improve safety in freezing temperatures with ice warning signs that urge customers, guests, or employees to exercise additional caution. When temperatures fall, ice, snow, and other winter weather can create slip, trip, and fall risks of which property owners and managers must be aware. Even previously plowed parking lots or salted sidewalks can prove hazardous, thanks to ice or snow that melts, then refreezes. Follow our expert advice to identify icy conditions or potentially slippery locations, then post easy-to-understand signage that alerts employees, customers, students, or guests to the possibility of icy surfaces.

How to Identify Icy Conditions

With the proper knowledge, it’s easy to identify areas that are likely to experience icy conditions. Follow these three tips to prepare and plan to ensure the safety of everyone on your property in winter weather.

1. Know Which Surfaces Are Likely To Freeze

While any area can potentially become icy during winter weather, some surfaces are more prone to freezing—and staying frozen—than others. Pay special attention when approaching open, elevated surfaces, such as pedestrian or vehicular bridges, elevated walkways, and exterior stairways that are likely to be frozen even if surrounding areas are not: Constant air flow above and below causes these surfaces to freeze more quickly. 

Similarly, ice that accumulates in areas that are shaded will melt slower than that in full or partial sunlight, so extra caution is necessary beneath trees or on shadowed sidewalks next to buildings, even if temperatures are above freezing. Keep an eye on stairs or sidewalks that sit under an overhang, where dripping, melted snow may refreeze when temperatures fall. 

2. Watch for Black Ice, Too

Most people know to look for and be cautious of surfaces that appear wet or shiny in icy conditions, but it’s important not to overlook the potential for black ice, especially in paved parking lots. Black ice is hard to spot: Watch for pavement that is slightly darker and duller looking than the rest of the road surface, which may indicate black ice, and remind pedestrians and drivers to use extra caution.

3. Don’t Overlook the Potential for Ice in Interior Spaces

When it comes to winter weather and icy conditions, potential danger extends beyond outdoor spaces. People will track in ice, snow, or water when coming through the door, leading to slippery conditions at building entrances. If the doors stay open and temperatures are low enough, this melted snow and ice can refreeze and create potential trip and fall hazards. You’ll also want to evaluate surfaces for ice potential in warehouse areas that are not climate-controlled. 

Warn of Icy Conditions with Prominent Safety Notices

According to the National Safety Council, slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States, and icy conditions can exacerbate these hazards. Icy parking lots and sidewalks pose risks to drivers and pedestrians alike, from minor bruises or broken bones to more significant injuries, such as head trauma. Clear communication, including posting adequate ice signs, is essential to ensuring the safety of everyone on your property in icy conditions, whether they’re customers, students, employees, or guests.

Ice Safety in the Workplace

OSHA requires employers to provide safe conditions for their workers, including well-maintained walkways and parking lots during winter months. Additionally, employees injured while on the job may be eligible for worker’s compensation, especially if the injury results in temporary or permanent disability. Clear communication about slip, trip, and fall hazards includes posting prominent warnings in places where there is potential for icy conditions, whether that’s in the parking lot or along exterior pathways. Employers should also post “Slippery When Wet” signs in places where ice and snow may melt indoors and use anti-slip tape to increase traction in entryways or ramps where slippery conditions may persist. 

Liability and Icy Conditions

Property owners and managers are responsible for maintaining safe premises, and failure to provide adequate warnings about icy conditions can result in legal consequences. Property owners may be held liable for injuries sustained on their premises if they knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and did not adequately address it or provide warnings. This liability applies beyond the workplace to shopping centers, schools, office buildings, residential units, and other locations.

Improve Safety With the Right Ice Signs

Choose from several types of signs and markings to urge employees, guests, and customers to exercise caution in icy conditions. The best option will depend on your unique situation and environment. Consider the benefits and applications for each: 

Type of Sign Description Benefits Best For
Upright Signs Available in standalone designs or options that attach to the top of traffic cones (temporary) or signposts (permanent) Portable upright ice signs can be moved to where you need them and stored when not in use Drawing attention to particularly treacherous spots. 

Use cone-top signs for temporary alerts on sidewalks, in interior spaces, or in parking lots or install permanent styles for continuous messaging.

Wall-Mount Signs Available in easy-to-identify color schemes with standard designs providing ice safety reminders Wall-mount signs are permanent and easy to recognize with standardized visuals and messaging Alerting individuals of places where ice or water frequently poses slip and fall hazards
Floor Signs Adhesive-backed visual cues provide clear messaging in indoor locations with freezer-rated floor tape options available Durable signs with pressure-sensitive adhesive can be removed or replaced as needed, floor tape provides additional safety messaging Providing clear visual cues indoors. Freezer-rated floor tape is suitable for cold storage areas or vestibules and areas subjected to freezing temperatures.
IceAlert® Signs IceAlert® products change color in freezing conditions, so they can remind visitors, employees, and customers to use extra caution. Because they do not have wires, batteries, or electronic components, IceAlert® signs offer an advantage over digital signage but still provide up-to-date warnings about icy conditions. Any area that will potentially be exposed to freezing temperatures, including roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, and walkways

Tips for Ensuring Effective Safety Notices

Make your safety signage, floor markings, and other alerts as effective as possible with these practical sign design, construction, and placement tips. 

  1. Follow color standards set by OSHA and ANSI, including using blue to serve as a notice, yellow to urge caution, red to indicate immediate danger, and orange to provide warnings that fall in between these risk levels. 
  2. Clear, concise language is key to effective signage in any situation, including ensuring safety during icy conditions. Quick, easy-to-understand terminology, including common phrases such as “CAUTION” or “DANGER”, immediately communicates risk. 
  3. Just as clear, simple language allows for faster response time, using signage with symbols and visuals makes it easy for individuals to quickly identify risks.
  4. Place signage where it is most visible and relevant—at exit doors, throughout a parking lot, and in places where ice risk may be heightened and extra caution is necessary, such as sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, and stairways. Choose temporary upright signage to indicate particularly treacherous patches of ice or temporary hazards.
  5. Choose durable materials that stand up to extended use in tough conditions, including below-freezing temperatures and exposure to moisture. Freezer-rated floor tape is useful at loading docks or entrances to schools, shopping centers, or office buildings where people are frequently coming in and out. Snowplowable pavement markers help mark lanes in parking lots, even in inclement weather, so drivers have a safe path of travel. Wall signs made from sturdy aluminum with weatherproof coatings offer extra durability.

Why Choose IceAlert® Signs?

IceAlert® signs change from white to blue to indicate that current temperature may lead to slippery ice

IceAlert® freeze warning signs feature innovative technology that signals when the potential for ice exists, so you don’t have to be close to a thermometer to recognize the need for caution. These temperature-sensitive ice safety signs gradually change color depending on the conditions where they are mounted, from gray when it is above 38°F or above to blue when temperatures begin to drop toward freezing. With this simple indicator, customers, employees, and visitors can evaluate the presence of ice-related fall hazards at a glance. IceAlert® signs include options for pedestrians and vehicles.

IceAlert® is a two-part system: A large sign is placed at property entrances to explain that “blue reflectors indicate freezing temperatures,” and individual post-mounted units are installed strategically around your property; common locations include parking lots, stairs and wheelchair ramps, elevated walkways, loading docks, sidewalks, and pedestrian bridges. Each post-mounted unit includes the reflector itself on a 7×10 backing, which also includes a graphical explanation.

In addition to increased safety, IceAlert® winter safety signs offer a range of benefits across a variety of industries and applications, including warehouses and manufacturing facilities, schools, nursing homes, residential communities, shopping centers, airports and transportation stations, and public spaces. 

  • IceAlert® signs are easy to install—no wires, batteries, or electric components—and require virtually no maintenance.
  • The rugged, durable signs will stand up to harsh weather conditions and last for years.
  • IceAlert® signs clearly signal the risk of ice, so maintenance workers know where to apply de-icing or non-slip compounds, saving money on wasted time and materials.

Tips for Safe Navigation on Icy Surfaces

Preventative messaging alerts individuals to potentially hazardous icy conditions, but caution is still necessary to ensure safety. Follow these tips for safe, slip-free navigation in icy areas.

  • Be aware of problem areas. If you live or work in a climate where winter weather is common, make sure you understand which surfaces are likely to ice. Pay attention to posted warnings and ice signs that can alert you to particularly slippery spots.
  • Stay alert when walking or driving on ice. Keep your hands out of your pockets and your eyes off your phone (and on the road or sidewalk ahead). It’s important to stay alert to your surroundings in icy conditions, as you may have to adjust or react to others who are slipping, sliding, or falling in icy conditions.
  • Take intentional steps. Walk slowly with short, shuffling footsteps to avoid slipping on hard-to-spot patches of ice.
  • Wear the right footwear for icy conditions. Avoid shoes with heels and wear footwear made of rubber or neoprene composite (versus plastic or leather) for better traction. If you spend significant amounts of time outdoors, look for shoes with abrasive soles or cleats that are designed to provide special traction when walking on snow or ice. 
  • Take necessary precautions when driving through parking lots or on roadways. Pay attention to designated driving lanes and speed limits. In parking lots, don’t cut diagonally across lanes, as these areas or paths are less likely to have been plowed sufficiently than those more commonly traveled.

Safety in parking lots, on sidewalks, and in the workplace is of the utmost importance to employees, managers, guests, and customers. This safety becomes even more imperative in winter weather, when icy conditions pose additional slip, trip, and fall hazards. The right signs can help mitigate those risks by providing clear, adequate warnings. For more on safety in industrial and public spaces, explore our Resource Center.