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Is Holiday Season “The Most Dangerous Time of the Year”?!?

4 Common Holiday Injuries to Avoid. 

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Nothing takes the joy out of holiday festivities like a visit to the emergency room. Many of the seasonal trappings we love so much this time of year can be the cause of avoidable injuries, and we have a few tips about how to keep you and your family safe this holiday season!

1 . Falls

Decorating accidents are by far the most common holiday-time injury, with falls leading the category. In 2017 there were 18,400 injuries nationwide associated with decking-the-halls from November to January, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And remember, you don’t have to fall far to sustain a concussion or broken bone. Here are some tips from Lifehacker for when you’re up on a ladder:

  • Don’t drink and decorate: Lay off the eggnog and save it for after the decorating. Many decorating injuries involve alcohol.
  • Don’t decorate alone: If something does happen, you want someone to be around to help you or call for help. Same goes for others—don’t let your family decorate alone. Offer to help out, especially if they’re elderly.
  • Check your ladder before you use it: Make sure none of the rungs are broken and that you don’t exceed the recommended weight limit. Also make sure the rungs are dry before you climb.
  • 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.
  • 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.

2 . Lacerations

Yep, sharp objects and revelry don’t mix.

Data from CPSC organized by Quartz / 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission and Quartz, qz.com

This amazing chart by Quartz illustrates the overwhelming trend (bright blue) for decorating accidents, but also an astonishing spike (fuchsia) in injuries on December 25th from ‘unwrapping gifts’. Presumably this statistic relates to knives, scissors, corkscrews, potato peelers, –pretty much anything sharp but unsuited for the job of opening a gift. The fix here is pretty easy, as LifeHacker puts it: “don’t use kitchen knives (especially dull ones), pens, scissors, and other inappropriate tools to open your presents. Tools should only be used for their intended purpose.

3 . Fires

It’s not just decorating, but the decorations themselves that can lead to disaster. Fortunately, Christmas tree fires are uncommon, but, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, when they do occur they’re 4.5 times more likely to cause a fatality than total reported home fires.

Video: The Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates the flammability of dried-out Christmas trees at their testing center / 2018 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Watering the tree daily can’t be emphasized enough. Better yet, consider an artificial tree. If you must have a live tree, choose one with fresh green needles that don’t fall off when touched, and be sure to locate your tree at least three feet from any heat source. A dry tree can become an inferno in as little as 10 seconds, as demonstrated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the video to the right.

The National Fire Prevention Association warns that most Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical cords or lights. Be sure to follow the load instructions for string lights and inspect extension cords and connections. Electrical plugs should never dangle from their outlets, and if you haven’t yet, it’s time to upgrade to LED lights–they use less power and generate significantly less heat.

Candles are another fire hazard. The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s day. The CPSC recommends flameless candles, especially around pets and children.

And in case there is a fire, make sure smoke alarms are less than 10 years old, properly installed, and in good working order.

4 . Alcohol Plus…

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Dr. Shawn Evans, an ER physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, California, reports to CNN that after falls, the second most common type of injuries his staff sees during the holiday season are caused by “alcohol-and …” accidents: alcohol and a motor vehicle; alcohol and an altercation; alcohol and cooking knives.

This is where friends can be instrumental. Be aware if a pal has had too much to drink, and offer to take over the fancy-knife-skills demonstration. And if you’re hosting a party, always be prepared to call for a taxi, coordinate rides, or pull out an inflatable mattress.

 

As Personal Injury Lawyers, we sincerely wish for you to avoid our offices this year, but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need us. We’re here for you.