The holiday season is here and, unfortunately, along with the hustle and bustle of friends and family members going in and out of homes and shopping areas throughout the holidays comes an increased possibility of serious injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that as many as 15,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms for injuries while decorating alone during the holidays every year, and that number has been increasing in recent years. Of course, while decorating accidents can include falling from ladders, stepping on broken glass ornaments, they are only part of the Christmas accident picture.
Because the Personal Injury Attorneys at Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group care about our community, we want you and your loved ones to get through this holiday season safely and in good health this year. That is why we are offering the following 12 Safety Tips of Christmas this year. By following these guidelines this and every holiday season, you will have a better idea what to look out for and how to avoid becoming a statistic.
1. When decorating for the holidays, follow basic ladder safety guidelines.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed guidelines for ladder safety that seem appropriate here. Make sure the ladder you use is appropriate for the height to which you are climbing. When climbing a ladder, you should always face the ladder and use both hands to climb. While working from the ladder, try to make sure your body weight is centered between the ladder supports, which means you shouldn’t lean too far to one side or the other. You should also wear sturdy slip-proof footwear; no flip-flops or slippers. If using a step ladder, never use the top two steps of the ladder to either store things or to stand on. Your hands and feet should maintain three points of contact with the ladder always, which has been proven to prevent falls. It is always a good practice to test strings of lights before you take them outside and climb the ladder and find out they don’t work.
2. Watch out for electrical hazards.
While Christmas is a time for gathering together loved ones for a good time, it is also a time for over-using extension cords and untangling Christmas lights. Keep your family and friends safe by untangling strings of lights before plugging them in and making sure you don’t use five cheap extension cords to plug something in. Instead, use one highly insulated extension cord that was designed for the job. If the reindeer you want to place on the roof needs seven six-foot cords from the dollar store to get there, use a single 50-foot heavy-duty extension cord made for the job instead. Avoid using too many adaptors and plugging too many things into a single outlet. Make sure all outdoor lights are rated properly for the weather. Not all holiday lights are made for wet weather, which happens a lot this time of year in this region of Florida. Consider replacing traditional holiday lights with LED lights, which meet much higher safety standards than traditional bulbs.
3. Reduce fire hazards.
Fires are far more common at Christmas than at many other times of the year. Make sure your lights are in good shape and that all electrical wiring is intact and replace it if there is even the slightest nick. Avoid the temptation to hide wiring under rugs, where constant walking over them can cause excessive wear that you may not see. Most importantly, make sure your real Christmas tree is properly watered, so that is doesn’t become tinder and create a fire hazard in your living room. Also, while we all like candles at Christmas, keep them away from a real Christmas tree and never leave one burning unattended.
4. Keep small Christmas decorations out of the reach of small children.
This is especially important when it comes to decorations with very small parts, which can create choking hazards for small children. Some of the most common holiday decoration hazards for small children include ornaments with tree hooks and decorative pieces that are very colorful, but which are not securely glued onto the decoration.
5. Keep your Christmas tree safe.
In addition to keeping it watered, where you place your Christmas tree can go a long way to keeping everyone safe this Christmas. A large tree can cause serious injury if it is knocked over by someone, especially small children or pets. Therefore, it is best to keep your tree in a corner of the room, in a spot without much traffic. Make sure the tree is properly secured in its base and that it is difficult to topple. If it can be secured to the wall, do so, to prevent tragedy.
6. When shopping for toys and other items for children, do your research.
If you’re buying toys for children, make sure they are age appropriate. There is a reason some toys are marked for children of a certain age. Quite often, toys for older children have small parts that can create a choking hazard, for example. Likewise, if a toy looks to be a little dangerous, think about the kid in “A Christmas Story” and why his parents didn’t want to buy him a BB gun because he might “shoot his eye out, Kid!” Also, don’t look for bargains by shopping for toys that don’t meet required safety standards.
7. Keep safety scissors handy for opening packages.
Opening presents is a major part of the season, but everyone should be able to do it safely, especially around young children. Safety scissors are far safer to use than a knife and less likely to result in tragedy, especially around small children. Using a knife to cut a ribbon or open wrapping paper is sometimes necessary, but don’t leave it lying around after, especially if there are young children or pets around. Often, using safety scissors to open presents can prevent an emergency room visit.
8. Be organized and keep clutter to a minimum.
With so many people around for the holidays, slip, trip and fall accidents are far too common. While we rarely have ice and snow this time of year in Florida, we still have our share of emergency room visits for these issues. Keep wires, cables and other types of clutter out of walkways. Gifts that have been piled under the tree can create a tripping hazard, so avoid that. It’s always best to keep everything as organized and neat as possible. Pick up toys and wrapping that is out of place, especially if it is in a walkway. Keep walkways as clear as possible at all times to keep friends and family safe.
9. Keep some tools handy for safely assembling toys.
If possible, know beforehand which tools you will need to have handy to assemble certain gifts. However, use tools as they are meant to be used. For example, using a screwdriver to uncover a battery compartment or to assemble something is wise, but using it to open a package tends to be a major cause of personal injury.
10. When installing and plugging in new gifts, keep wires and cables secure and follow instructions.
When we get new gifts, we’re excited and want to see them in action right away. However, we want to do so safely. When plugging something in to make sure it works, avoid stringing the electrical cord across a walkway. Also, the reason devices come with instructions is to allow for their safest possible use. Avoid the temptation to show everyone how smart you are and consult the instruction manual because you may miss an important detail that could keep everyone safe.
11. Set aside a lot of time and plan for Christmas dinner preparation.
Too many cooks rushing around the kitchen can lead to burns and cuts from knives and other sharp objects. With too many cooks, there is a tendency to bump into each other or spill something that leads to a slip, trip or fall. It is also very important to keep track of foods, especially the turkey, so as to prevent contamination with foodborne pathogens. Food that has been left out too long at room temperature is especially susceptible to contamination, which can make people sick. It is also important to use utensils such as knives just once before cleaning. Don’t use one knife to cut raw meat and to dice vegetables, which is a breeding ground for foodborne illness. Carefully plan food preparation activity in advance, to eliminate as many of these problems as possible.
12. Do not drink and drive.
Unfortunately, the holiday season often sees increased consumption of alcohol and too many people make the unwise choice to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. If you have had a couple of glasses of egg nog or a couple of beers or stronger drinks, hand the keys to someone else. Better yet, plan for a designated driver in advance. And if you see that a family member or other holiday guest has had a few too many, don’t hesitate to hide their keys or otherwise prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car and putting everyone else at risk.
At Kemp, Ruge and Green Law Group, we want everyone to get through Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate safely. However, if you or a loved one has been injured during the holidays, you should be able to move forward with your life to the best of your ability. Our Personal Injury Attorneys have the skills and the knowledge to be able to help you get compensated from any negligent party. Of course, we hope it doesn’t happen; we want everyone in our Florida community to come through the holiday season safe and sound. However, if the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know you have someone on your side who can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.