It’s no secret that with the convenience of living in a big city like Chicago comes many dangers. This will happen any time you’re exposed to more urban areas with a greater population. The horror stories that you see on the news of couples getting mugged while walking home from dinner, of people being randomly pushed in front of oncoming subway trains, or of women being preyed on at nightclubs and followed back to their apartments where they’re brutally murdered, these all prepare you for the dangers of crime, keeping you alert and ever-searching for suspicious individuals to avoid. But, of course, even well-meaning people can cause you harm without meaning to. We saw during the pandemic how quickly the covid-19 disease spread through bigger cities. Of course, these dangers are all expected when living in a more populated area. There are plenty of other dangers that you might not have even considered.
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One thing about big cities? They’re always under construction. You’ll likely find yourself being forced to walk under scaffolding at some point nearly every day. It might look harmless enough–the metal rods and boards constructed over sidewalks and around the perimeter of a building that’s having a bit of work done–but scaffolding can be incredibly unsafe. This is because some construction companies will cut corners in building scaffolding to try to save money on projects. If scaffolding is not made correctly, it has the potential to be incredibly unsafe for workers. There are approximately 60 construction workers killed in scaffolding accidents each year, and this is a fairly small number compared to the nearly 4,500 cases of workers falling off of scaffolding annually. You might wonder how this poses a threat to your safety. Well, if a construction worker falls from a height of 30 feet and lands on you, you’ll be crushed. You’d be looking at a best-case scenario of a few broken bones. And of course, while walking under scaffolding, you run the risk of not only having workers fall on you but tools as well. The further a heavy tool falls from, the more force it will gain before impact and the more damage it will do to your body. So, the next time you see scaffolding on your way to work, it might be best to play it safe and cross the street.
A lot of people have a fear of the subway grates that take up so much space on city sidewalks. They fear that if they walk over them then they might end up falling through and getting seriously hurt, and, well, this fear is completely justified. Though it’s rare, there have been many cases where people have fallen through subway grates while walking over them–in fact, it happens about once every 20 months in New York City. For the most part, subway grates typically tend to have about 8 to 10 feet of dead space beneath them, since they primarily cover the subway tunnels and are used to allow smoke and steam to escape in the case of an accident or a fire. A fall from this height wouldn’t necessarily kill you. In fact, it would be most likely that you’d just suffer cuts, bruising, and possibly a few broken bones. However, there are some subway grates that cover multiple stories worth of dead space, and a fall from these heights would be much more likely to result in severe injuries or death.
Of course, even from a fall of eight or ten feet, landing on or near the subway tracks below poses its own problem. Since there is so much electricity and so many wires needed to power the subway cars, falling through the grate and onto the tracks could potentially put you at risk of being electrocuted. So, even if you survive the fall, you’re not necessarily in the clear. Then again, your safety isn’t guaranteed on the ground either. Officials have warned that, during the winter months when the grates are covered in ice and snow, the risk of electrocution is increased above ground as well, since wires below might not be properly maintained and have the potential to become dangerous once introduced to water. Another risk that you run above ground–which seems much less serious compared to the other dangers already listed–is tripping or stumbling. This can happen if the tip of your foot gets caught on the lip of the grate or, if you’re wearing thin heels, it can happen if your heel sinks through the spaces of the grate. In this event, you run the risk of causing injuries to your ankles. So, it’s best to just avoid subway grates if you can.