Floor Mats, Premises Liability, and Protecting Guests from Accidents

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Have you given this any thought?  A quick primer on premises liability can convince any homeowner of the importance of entrance mats and runners.  These simple yet effective products perform at least 3 critical tasks to make the home a more comfortable and enjoyable place.  First, mats provide moisture, debris, and bacteria control, often serving as the first line of defense against incoming precipitation and pollutants that might otherwise ruin the foyer and contaminate the home.  In virtue of this essential task, floor mats also provide traction to keep guests on their feet as the approach and enter the home.  Finally, mats and entrance runners provide a subtle touch to exterior and interior aesthetics, providing surface textures and eye-catching colors that augment walls, trim, sculptures, and other residential fixtures.

Reviewing Premises Liability

Liability is the state of being responsible for something or someone.  To illustrate, consider that when a dispute is taken to court, lawyers present facts to a judge in order to assign blame and prove that one party is liable for the pain, discomfort, or damages experienced by another.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how premises liability is a specific form of liability concerned with the duties and responsibilities that property owners owe to their guests.  Duties and responsibilities may vary according to the guest’s relation to the property owner (e.g. property owners do not owe the same duties and responsibilities to guests who are trespassing without their permission).  To learn more about this legal concept, visit this article on premises liability.

Premises liability is perhaps the strongest argument for the proactive application of safety mats at home.  As the adage reminds us, sometimes the best offense is a good defense.  Investing in door mats and entryway runners is one of the most effective ways to proactively protect your guests, which in turn limits your exposure to liability for slip and fall accidents.  To illustrate, consider how floor mats can be used to prevent each of the following common causes of slips, trips, and falls around the home:

Doorstep puddles. Outdoor matting absorbs precipitation like rain, snow, and sleet.  This prevents puddles from forming and reduces the chances of an accidental slip.

Snow accumulation. Rubber and polypropylene are two heavy-duty matting materials designed to withstand frigid temperatures without shifting, slipping, or becoming damaged.  Deep textures in these mats enable a firm footing, even after a light snowfall.

Holiday lights and extension chords. ‘Tis the season for holiday lights and decorations, both of which often require electricity.  Running extension cords along the foundation of the home can create a tripping hazard when cords cross sidewalks, porches, and doorsteps, especially after nightfall.  To be safe, place a doormat over every cord that intersects a walkway.

Selecting the Ideal Door Mat

There are various different floor mats and entrance runners available to homeowners that want to make entryways a cleaner, safer, and more inviting space.  Matting material is perhaps the biggest variable to consider, as different environments may call for different types of floor mats.

Below are a few basics to consider:

Rubber mats are best used outdoors. Rubber is a great material to use outside because it is resilient, weatherproof, and can “squeegee” shoes clean before they reach the interior of the entryway.

Polypropylene mats are great for wet environments. Polypropylene is a unique polymer that provides excellent absorption and longevity, even when used outdoors.  If you live in a region that experiences heavy rainfall, consider investing in a polypropylene mat to place outside your entryway.

Carpet mats provide exceptional indoor aesthetics. Inside the entryway, carpet mats offer a place for guests to give their shoes a final wipe before entering the home.  Carpet mats are among the easiest to customize with vibrant colors and designs, making them the best choice to augment interior décor as well.

This winter, take a moment to evaluate the safety of your sidewalks, porches, and interior foyer.  Note instances where guests face hazards that may lead to slips, trips, and falls.  Then, invest in a floor mat or entrance runner to prevent the accident before it occurs.