Top Injury Accidents During the Holidays
Ahh, the glow of the Christmas lights, the scent of fresh pine in the air and the sounds of an ambulance siren wafting gently over the rooftops. Not the ideal scenario for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, yet there are quite a list of accidents and related injuries that happen during this time of year.
Serious accident injuries can be prevented with a little extra caution around the Christmas holiday – let’s take a look at some of the most common situations that can result in a trip to the emergency room, or worse:
OK, you’ve spent days wandering the tree lots in search of the perfect tree to fit your home, then lug it back and begin to decorate. Now is the time to use your head, and don’t try to do more than you are capable of. Get a sturdy ladder or solidly-built step stool to reach the upper-most branches, not the dining room folding chair. If you can’t reach the top to place that angel or star yourself, ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help you out. Toppling over while trying to string lights on a Christmas tree is one of more common accidents that happen during the holidays.
Have you been using that same old box of lights for so many years you don’t remember when you bought them? It may be time to invest in some fresh light strings. The cords can become brittle or frayed, which could cause an electrical fire in the tree, which will quickly spread. If your tree is a real one, make sure it never gets too dry – those little bulbs may be small, but they still put off some heat, so a well-watered tree will reduce the risk of a fire. An artificial tree should have a UL Tested seal of approval, which indicates it has passed safety inspections. Make sure it is fire-resistant or flame-retardant, too.
We’ve all seen our neighbors climbing around on their roof to string lights on their houses – but, that doesn’t mean you should try it. Wobbly ladders on sloped or soft ground is a recipe for a nasty fall, and only a small percentage of holiday handymen are capable of jumping up on the roof to string lights. Make sure you are fully in control of the task at hand, or ask for or hire some capable help. There is also a tendency to try to plug too many light strings, twisting Santas or animated deer into one socket. This can create a serious fire hazard, and can short out electrical circuits in your house. And also always make sure your outdoor cord connections and electrical sockets are covered or protected from rain or sprinkler water.
Fires started by candles are a very common occurrence, and even more so during the Christmas season. More than 1,000 injuries and $450 million annually in property damage can be blamed on fires started by candles, according to Safetyathome.com. The most common reasons are candles placed too near a curtain or other flammable material, or in the path of a breeze that could blow the flame or hot wax out of the candle. Letting a candle burn down too low is a fire risk, too, as well as forgetting to completely extinguish a candle before turning in for the night. Believe it or not, unattended candles are the leading cause of home fires around this time of year. Candles can add a warm glow to the Christmas holiday – just make sure you use extra caution, or buy one of the new “flameless” candles now available on the market.
Keep an eye on the little ones when they rip the wrapping off their presents. Those shiny baubles and ribbons can easily be ingested, causing a choking hazard. Even the toy itself can be a problem if has sharp edges or comes out of the box broken. For the seemingly impenetrable hard plastic cases that hold most toys these days, use a scissors to cut them open, not a kitchen knife.
Unless you’ve over done it on the eggnog, it should go without saying that eating part of that beautiful house plant is not a good idea. But your kids and pets may find them too tempting to resist. Certain types of mistletoe contain a poisonous toxin called phoratoxin, which can cause an array of physical ailments if ingested. Same goes for the berries of the Juniper bush, commonly used in holiday decor. The ubiquitous poinsettia plant, a traditional holiday staple, has long been rumored to be poison, too, but the fact is you would need to eat about 500 leaves from a poinsettia to cause serious physical damage. Still, the best rule of thumb is to keep plants away from where young kids and pets can reach them.
Ok, so we Floridians may not all be able to start a fire when it reaches into those super-cold, 50-degree temps in the mornings. But, many homes here do have fireplaces, and they can be a major fire hazard under certain circumstances. Before you stoke the wood, be sure your chimney and flue are clean, unobstructed and clear of any debris. Always make sure your tree and any other decorations are far enough away from the fireplace, and NEVER use any kind of flammable liquid to get the fire started. Don’t use paper or cardboard to start a fire – they make special kindling wood to ignite the type of dry firewood you should be using. Never leave a fire burning when you turn in for the night, and make sure all the ashes are completely out before cleaning out the fireplace.
This time of year is meant for gathering together to share in the spirit of Christmas, and to create memories that will last a lifetime. The accident injury attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D’Alessandro & Noone remind you to please be careful in all of your celebration, and don’t become an injury statistic during this happy time of year.