How to Avoid a Holiday Accident

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that, between November and December of 2012 there were at least 12,000 emergency room visits from holiday decorating (not including auto accidents). This time of year can be risky for an array of reasons: many people traveling, unpredictable weather conditions, and fire risks being just a few. Accident and injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a few tips to get you through the holidays and into the New Year in one piece.

Even the Grinch would not want to spend the holidays in the hospital, however, with decorating homes and (for some) overindulging in spiked eggnog, accidents do proliferate, and are actually increasing according to the CPSC. The agency confirmed that there are about 250 injuries every day during the season, most occurring from decorating falls.

Over 40% of all decorating falls happen from ladder falls, which reinforces how important it is to understand and always adhere to ladder safety instructions. The CPSC wrote a comprehensive blod on ladder safety, which can be found here. Additionally, always make sure that your indoor and outdoor holiday lights have been tested, checked for cracks and broken glass, and certified for outdoor use before putting them up.

Fires are also a major concern over the holidays, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of millions in property damage every year. Between 2009 and 2011, for example, fire departments throughout the country estimated that fires caused over $324 million in property loss. In about 200 fires during that time period, the destruction began with the ignition of a Christmas tree.

Here are a few guidelines for safely enjoying trees and decorations during the holidays:

  • Buy a fresh tree, as older ones light on fire much more easily and quickly • Always place the tree away from heat sources (fireplaces, radiators)
  • If you buy an artificial tree, ensure it is labeled “fire resistant”
  • In families with small children, avoid sharp, breakable and weighted decorations
  • Always keep burning candles within sight, and extinguish before leaving
  • Keep candles on stable and heat-resistance surfaces, where kids and pets can’t knock them over or reach for them. Keep away from curtains, decorations and trees.
  • If using a fireplace, use extreme care with fire salts, and keep away from children
  • Avoid burning wrapping paper in fireplaces, as they ignite suddenly and burn intensely

Other common fire sources include cooking accidents and space heater fires. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 80% of all home fire deaths involve space heaters. Though convenient, space heaters are a leading cause of home fires, along with cooking and smoking.

In addition to these tips, we further highlight other, more egregious seasonal risks. Among these include frostbite, which can occur in less than 20 minutes if exposed to cold below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, foodborne illnesses, dog bites, and winter sport injuries. Thousands of kids are also injured by toys during the holiday season, so make sure all presents are age-appropriate and children are supervised during use (otherwise they’ll likely shoot their eyes out). The CPSC estimates that 184,000 children were injured by toys just in 2009.

In many states, public transportation departments are significantly increasing ads to combat drunk driving. New York in particular has doubled its ad spots, after over a 100% increase in drunk driving deaths from 2012. The ads can be seen in subway stops, bar restrooms and coasters throughout NYC. Although icy roads are responsible for a large number of accidents and deaths, roadways in warmer states are dangerous this time of year as well. With many more people on the roads travelling and deer season still in full force, the likelihood of a crash increases substantially.

Our team of accident attorneys is currently investigating and accepting cases of significant injury caused by the negligence of others, whether that be an auto accident or tree fire. We take on injury cases nationwide, and our legal consultations are always free, so give us a call today to discuss your potential case.


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