Between decorating the house, buying the perfect gifts, attending holiday parties, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the cooler weather, you have a lot to enjoy this winter. But what you might not enjoy is hearing about the risk for injury during the holiday season.
Falling from a ladder, being pelted by snowballs, and stepping on broken ornaments can lead to expensive medical bills and even lawsuits if you’re not careful. To help you avoid becoming the victim or the responsible party in a personal injury suit, we’ve put together the following guide to help you stay safe this winter.
Must-Know Holiday Statistics
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 holiday-related injuries occur each year in December alone. Here’s a breakdown of the most common holiday-related accidents:
Hospitals treats about 6,200 for injuries related specifically to Christmas trees.
Emergency rooms treat another 1,300 people for wounds caused by holiday lights.
Holiday lights cause upwards of 500 fires each year.
Christmas trees are at the center of approximately 400 house fires. Candles account for $170 million in property damage annually.
With so many possibilities for injury, a holiday tradition can quickly turn into a tragedy. Luckily, there are ways to avoid injuries during the holidays.
Ways to Avoid Injuries and Accidents
You probably want nothing more than to celebrate life, friends, and family this holiday season. If you want to enjoy this time of year, you need to know how holiday injuries occur and how to avoid them.
- When You’re Decorating
Take the following steps to reduce your risk for injury as you decorate your home:
Pick a fresh tree if you celebrate Christmas. Dry trees are significantly more likely to catch fire, potentially leading to damage and injuries. When you choose a tree, make sure its needles don’t break when you bend them between your fingers. Also look for sticky resin near the bottom of the tree.
Avoid fragile or sharp decorations, especially if you have children or plan to have guests over at your house.
Keep holiday plants out of reach. Mistletoe, Christmas cactus, and holly berries are all poisonous if swallowed, so you don’t want guests or children touching them. Poinsettias can also cause nausea and vomiting if ingested.
In addition to the tips above, make sure you keep high-traffic areas clear of decorations and cords to prevent slip and fall accidents.
- When You Host a Party
If you plan to host a holiday party, be sure to take the following precautions to make sure you and your guests have a grand time:
Label all foods to prevent guests from having allergic reactions.
Check your carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms before guests arrive to ensure these appliances work properly.
Keep pets away from the party to prevent attacks. Even if your pet is usually mild mannered, a house full of loud people may put them on edge.
Clean up trash and spills to keep people from slipping.
Burn candles in plain sight to avoid accidental bumps that can cause a fire.
Don’t let anyone drive themselves home if they’ve been drinking. In some personal injury cases, the person who provided the alcohol might be held partially responsible for a drunk-driving accident.
Holiday parties are one of the biggest highlights of the winter season-don’t let accidents or injuries ruin them.
- When You’re Shopping
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or another holiday, chances are you’ll need to buy at least one gift this season. Use these tips to avoid injury when you’re out and about:
Cross streets and walkways at designated crosswalks-a personal injury case in which you were breaking the law might not hold up in court.
Pay attention to your surroundings to avoid running into other people, knocking over displays, or injuring yourself.
Make sure your shoelaces, drawstrings, and mitten strings are tied when you use an escalator or moving sidewalk. Untied strings can cause you to get trapped, which could lead to severe injury.
Furthermore, because thieves often target unsuspecting shoppers on the way to their cars, try to remain alert at all times.
- When You’re Driving
By now, you’re well aware that winter driving is dangerous. Use the following winter driving tips to stay safe this season:
Increase your following distance, especially if roads look slick or snowy.
Brake, accelerate, and turn slowly. Everything takes a little more time on slick roads, so if you try to turn, brake, or accelerate too abruptly, you could skid.
Do not use cruise control on a slick or snowy road-your car is more likely to slide on slippery surfaces when it’s in cruise control. Keep your headlights on at all times, even during the day.
Whether you’re going all-out on the holiday decor or simply plan to attend a few holiday parties, use the tips above to avoid to avoid injury this winter. But if you do experience an injury, be sure to schedule an appointment with a personal injury attorney right away.