Common Holiday Accidents and How to Avoid Them

According to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, more than 20,000 people were treated in 2017 for holiday decorating-related injuries in November and December alone. Falls are the most common reason ERs see patients during the holidays. And, each year fires kill approximately 400 Americans and cause $990 million in damage.
Statistically, falls are “hands down the most common reason why ER’s see an increase in injuries at this time of the year.

These injuries usually fall into one of these three categories

  1. older men or women who are putting up lights outside and hurt their back or neck.
  2. middle-aged men who’ve had a couple of drinks while decorating and injure their shoulders or wrists.
  3. and kids who are trying to assist and end up with head lacerations or concussions.
The beautiful twinkling light are a close 2nd when it comes to the number of injuries that result from them. Have you spent hours untangling holiday lights? There are approximately 12,000 ER visits due to holiday-related cuts, shocks, and more. So, if your lights are worn in any way, throw them out. They aren’t worth the trip to the ER.
In addition, those beautiful lights can also be responsible for electrical shocks and even causing a serious house fire. If you don’t use the proper kind of extension cord, the wrong type of bulb or the cord isn’t waterproof, you could really end up on the wrong end of an emergency room gurney.
At this time of year when we mention fires and injuries most people assume they are cause by decorations/trees that catch fire. This is often the case, but it is also the season when many of us enjoy roaring fires. In 2017, holiday fires were thought to have caused over one billion dollars in damage. Last year, fires killed approximately 600+ Americans and caused over $1 billion in damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Along with the fires resulting from typical fireplace fires, this time of year is also wrought with fires and burns caused by holiday decorations. The most common source of decoration fires are candles. It is also important to not set the candle near anything flammable or anywhere it can be easily knocked over. The CPSC recommends using flameless candles if you have young children or pets. It is important to make sure to extinguish all candles before going to bed at night.
One of the most important holiday decorations is the Christmas tree. Did you know that the Christmas tree is the most likely item to catch fire when it is started? Unfortunately, although fresh cut trees look and smell beautiful, they can often be highly flammable. Always look for a tree that appears to be fresh – doesn’t lose its needles easily, isn’t dry and brittle, has a good smell and is obviously very green and lush. Never place a tree near a heat source. If you choose an artificial tree, look for a “fire resistant” label.
During the holiday season, many injuries are “alcohol-and …” accidents: alcohol and a motor vehicle; alcohol and an altercation; alcohol and cooking knives. With holiday drinks occasionally loaded with liquor, it can be easy to forget that the eggnog isn’t just made from eggs. Keep your mind on enjoying time with family and friends without an accident and getting home safely, and not on all of the holiday drinking. Designated drivers are a good idea (regardless of the time of year).
Often we forget about cooking related injuries. The holidays are a time when we are focused on food and our traditions that center around the kitchen. It is important to make sure you use common sense. It is important to pay attention when you are cutting ingredients. Make sure you look at pots and pans when you go to grab them from inside hot ovens or on top of stoves. Wear oven mitts. Stand back when using grease and make sure you set timers so you don’t overcook/burn things. In addition, frying turkeys has become very popular. Make sure you do it outdoors, on concrete and keep an extinguisher handy.
Weather is one of the most notorious “holiday hazards”. We don’t usually associate freezing rain, sleet and snow with the holidays (our memories skew more towards the white fluffy hills of snow, sledding and of course, Frosty the Snowman). But, this time of year can be wrought with bad weather that can come up all of a sudden and catch drivers off guard. So, be prepared and plan to allow plenty of time to get “over the river and through the woods”. You may need to be flexible so that you can change your plans if the weather requires it.
Enjoying the holidays and staying injury free is something we all want to do. Because these injuries are fairly common and often are avoidable, the Wocl Leydon Family have pulled together some tips on how you may be able to avoid them.

Here is a list of those tips:

  1. Don’t drink and decorate: Many decorating injuries involve alcohol. Save the champagne and the eggnog until after you’ve finished decorating or driving.
  2. Don’t decorate alone: If something does happen, you want someone to be around to help you or call for help. Use the “buddy system” – offer to help a family member or friend and have them do the same for you. Make sure that elderly friends and family members have someone to decorate for them.
  3. Check your ladder before you use it: Make sure it is safe, in good repair and that you are within the recommended weight limit.
  4. Set your ladder up properly: Place the ladder on solid, even ground. Use the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height you have to climb, move the base one foot away from the wall. And have someone hold it steady for you.
  5. Keep kids safe on the ground: Kids will want to help you decorate, but they’re better off handing you tools or holding the ladder.
  6. You may have already hung up most of your lights and decorations around the house, but these dangers are just as present when you go to take them down. So don’t disregard these tips after all the fun stuff has already happened.
  7. Buy safe lights: The lights you use should bear the marking of a safety testing laboratory. LEDs are a great choice as they’re energy efficient and run cooler.
  8. Check lights for damage before use: Discard sets that have any exposed or frayed wires, cracked or broken bulbs, or any other damage.
  9. Burn candles safely: Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where they can be knocked over by kids or pets. Also, make sure candles aren’t placed near anything that can catch fire, like decorations, curtains, furniture, or Christmas trees.
  10. Consider an artificial tree. Look for one with a “fire resistant” label.
  11. Keep the tree away from heat sources. check for freshness before you buy. It should be green, not brown, and needles and branches shouldn’t break easily when you bend them.
  12. If you’re in snowy weather, you can be faced with slipping hazards everywhere you turn. If you want to avoid a bruised behind, you need to de-ice your driveway and walkways as soon as possible.
  13. Select a de-icer like – calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, or rock salt and spread it before it snows. Add a little sand or cat litter to your ice melt mixture. Once it snows, clear as much snow as you can before spreading the de-icer.
  14. When you are moving your beautiful Christmas tree, remember that they aren’t light. Always lift with your legs, not your back, otherwise you can cause very serious neck and spine issues. And don’t forget to take the same care when you take it down.
  15. Decorating your tree with ornaments includes the possibility of many injuries. So think long and hard about using sharp, heavy, or breakable decorations. If you have little ones around, avoid using ornaments or trimming that looks edible or has removable parts that could be a real choking hazard.
  16. It might seem odd, but injuries occur while wrapping or unwrapping gifts are the second most common types of injuries during the holidays—especially on Christmas Day. Very few of these injuries are life-threatening, but they can be pretty gross. Try to use scissors very carefully when using them to open presents. And avoid using knives and other sharp objects that really aren’t meant to be present openers. Use a safety blade (you can get one for a few bucks.) And always cut away from you and other people (especially young people).
So, as the Christmas holiday draws near, the whole Wocl Leydon Family, personal injury lawyers in Stamford & Bridgeport, would like to wish you the very warmest wishes for a joyous and Merry Christmas! Stay safe and we will look forward to seeing you in 2019!

Wocl Leydon, LLC
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