Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Years are all special holidays on the calendar. They are opportunities for families and friends to gather together and enjoy the warm glow of love and laughter.
However, there is a darker side to the celebration of light that few people talk about. The months of November and December see nearly 15,000 emergency room visits for those who have been injured by electrical shock, falling off roofs and ladders, and injuries due to broken glass ornaments. The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that these accidents may be funny in the movies but can be deadly serious for your family members.
Falls, lacerations, and fires top the list of holiday-related injuries and should be taken seriously. Better yet, they should be avoided at all costs.
The National Safety Council has one again posted its guide for a safe and happy holiday season. Some of the advice seems quite obvious but is frequently ignored. The the NSC breaks the dangers into four major areas: Decoration Safety, Ladder Safety, Food Safety, and Vehicle Prep and Safety.
When it comes to decorations, it is important to remember a few key safety tips:
- Never use candles near any flammable materials – especially greenery and Christmas trees.
- Many holiday plants look good enough to eat, but can be poisonous to children and pets.
- Never allow your tree to dry out. Remove the tree if it does become brittle and dry. To help avoid this, cut off about two inches off the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Most importantly, keep the stand filled with water at all times.
- Never place your tree near fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
- Ensure that the tree does not block doorways.
- Keep breakable ornaments, or ornaments with small, detachable parts off lower branches. Small children or pets can reach them.
- Select a fire resistant artificial tree that has the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label whenever they have built-in electrical systems.
- Use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Again, look for the UL label.
- Never use lights that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Throw them away!
- Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights. Make sure to keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow.
Ladder safety is most of utmost importance. Few of us have experience climbing ladders during the rest of the year, and yet we think that this is a good project to attempt in the cold and snow of December. Worse yet, when working indoors, many Indiana residents fail to use a ladder at all. Instead, they use chairs, stools, or other pieces of furniture to get to that high spot. The right ladder for the right job is the first step to safety.
When hosting a party, pay special attention to food safety rules. Washing fruits and vegetables with a scrub brush and cool water is critical. When preparing turkey or chicken, always wash surfaces that come in contact with raw poultry. A solution of one tablespoon bleach to one gallon of water is the perfect way to ensure your surfaces are not contaminated. Cook your food to the proper internal temperature. Do not allow food to set out for more than two hours. Refrigerate all leftovers.
A good host is sensible about offering alcoholic drinks. Ensure that each car has a designated driver or offer over-night accommodations for those who indulge to excess.
Finally, prepare your car for the winter by checking the brakes, spark plugs, battery, and tires. Always have at least 1/2 a tank of gas in your vehicle. Have a winter “survival kit” ready to go. This kit should include a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective safety triangles, a first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, and non-perishable, high energy foods. These include canned nuts, dried fruits, energy bars or hard candy. Always have a cell phone and charging cable available for emergencies.
The holidays can be magical, especially if all the right precautions are taken to ensure the safety of your family and guests.
If you or a loved one has been injured this holiday season, call the personal injury attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP. They are experienced in helping people who have been injured and are ready to help. Call today.