This time of year can be magical…the singing of Christmas carols, sipping eggnog by the fire, hanging stockings with care and opening presents…but unfortunately, it’s also the most dangerous time of year. From ladder falls and fires caused by Christmas lights to accidents on roadways and kitchen blunders, here are some tips for staying safe during the holidays.
Every year in the United States nearly 20,000 individuals die due to home-related accidents. More than 30 million people end up visiting the emergency room due to what the Center for Disease Control and Preventions terms “unintentional injuries.” Among the top 10 causes of accidents is home decorating.
Brad says, “You’ve got people getting electrocuted or catching their house on fire or falling off of ladders. The older you get, your balance isn’t what it used to be. Even a minor fall can cause long-term damage. It’s important to always have someone else there when you are decorating.”
Falls are by far the leading cause of unintentional injuries in the United States. More than 90,000 individuals receive treatment from ladder-related injuries usually caused by carrying items as they are climbing.
So as you hang your Christmas lights this season, keep these ladder safety tips in mind.
- Ladder Placement. Make sure the ladder is on firm and level ground. Never place a ladder in front of a door that is not being guarded by someone.
- The Right Ladder for the Job. Most ladder injuries happen because ladders are too short for the job. Make sure your ladder is large enough for your task. If you must stand on one of the top two rungs to complete the task, it’s not the right ladder.
- Improper Use. Never use a ladder in any way other than its intended to be used. If you're using a stepladder or a dual-purpose ladder, that means that all four legs should be on the ground. Also: ladders are designed for one person, so if the job requires two people that means two ladders.
- Ladder Location. Always position the ladder as close to where you’ll be working as possible. Do not reach out or overextend; if you can’t reach your work area, it’s time to reposition your ladder.
- Three Points of Contact. Avoid carrying items when climbing. Have someone assist you with what you need to complete your task once you are in position.
Now that you’ve safely put up the Christmas decorations using ladder safety practices, it’s time to take a look at another cause of holiday injuries. Home fires increase by 30 percent between the months of December and February. Here are a few preventive measures to ensure they don’t occur.
- The Fresher the Better. Pick a fresh tree with green needles; when touched, the needles shouldn't fall off.
- Setting up Your Tree. Before placing your tree in its stand, cut 2 inches off the base of the trunk.
- Tree Placement. Ensure your tree does not block any exit and is a minimum of 3 inches from any heat source. Add water to the tree stand and check and water daily.
- Tree and Holiday Lighting. Use lights that are independently tested and/or carry the endorsement of the Underwriters Laboratory. Always replace lights that are out and make sure to turn off all lights before going to bed.
- Take it Down. Dried out trees are fire hazards. After Christmas is over, take them down and dispose of them properly. Never store your tree in a garage or against your house. Similarly, take down all exterior lighting at the end of the holiday season: it will prolong the life of your lights and prevent hazards.
Too Much Christmas Cheer
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, during the 2017 holiday season, there were more than 2,500 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes in Texas, resulting in 82 fatalities and 199 serious injuries. During the 2018 New Year’s Holiday, there were more than 4,000 traffic crashes in Texas, resulting in 44 fatalities and 171 serious injuries.
“Be careful on the roadways. That’s definitely the most dangerous thing you’re going to be doing. Even though drinking and driving is against the law, people are still going to drive drunk. The advice I give my daughters is, ‘Try not to drive in the late evening or early morning hours, and always be defensive in your driving,’ ” Brad says.
Last Christmas Brad remembers representing a young woman who acquired extensive injuries after being plowed into by a drunk driver.
Brad says, “The driver that hit her had been drinking for five hours at a local bar before getting behind the wheel of his car and causing the accident. My client went through several months of physical therapy and multiple surgeries.”
Keeping the holidays merry and bright can be achieved by remembering to make a plan to get home safely before the festivities even begin, as suggested by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Visit SoberRides.org to plan a ride home before the holiday parties because drivers under the influence of alcohol could face up to $17,000 in fines, fees and could lose their license, not to mention the danger they pose to themselves and others on the roadways.
From Our Firm to Your Family:
We hope you can stay safe and enjoy this holiday season. Spend time with your families, put the phone down and walk away from work for a while.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients. We serve the Hurst, Euless, Bedford and surrounding areas.