The holiday season should be a time for joy and celebration, spent with family and loved ones. Even so, with all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s not uncommon to get injured. While no one wants to think about getting hurt at this time of year, the team at Shiner Law Group has compiled a few things to look out for, so you can better protect yourself and your family. Here are some of the most common injuries that occur during the holiday season, and what you can do to stay safe all year round.
The last few weeks of the year are coincidentally the busiest time of the year for travel. With so many more people on the road traveling and holiday shopping, your chances of being involved in an automobile accident increase. In some areas of the country, holiday travel conditions are made even worse by the dangers of snow, sleet, and ice. While icy and slippery roads aren’t often a problem here in Florida, this sometimes leaves Floridians traveling out of state unprepared for driving in winter weather. Additionally, while we don’t often have to deal with ice, foggy mornings during the Florida winter cause traffic concerns as well. Coupled with millions of people trying to get to and from holiday celebrations, it’s a necessity to pay extra attention when driving during this time of the year.
Car, truck, and motorcycle crashes are one of the most common types of accidents that happen during the Thanksgiving travel rush. While many of these accidents are relatively minor, simply causing damage to vehicles, some of these accidents can result in traumatic injuries, broken bones, or even death. Car accidents can be catastrophic for all parties involved, so it’s important to be extra vigilant if you’re traveling this holiday season. Take it slow when driving in the dark or in less-than-optimal conditions, follow other vehicles at a safe distance, keep your eyes open for pedestrians and motorcyclists, and avoid drinking alcohol when you plan on driving. And last but certainly not least, with more distractions than ever during this time of year, it is important to remember to stay off of your phone while driving.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen in someone’s home, or in a public place like a restaurant, mall, or grocery store. The week following Thanksgiving and the week leading up to Christmas are the busiest times to shop of the entire year due to people buying gifts or stocking up on holiday treats at different stores. With so many people trying to get their errands done, you’re likely to see a more aggressive crowd and injuries become more common. Sometimes, at restaurants or grocery stores, liquids get spilled and don’t get cleaned up promptly, which can result in a slippery surface. It’s also common to trip on unsecured carpet or other hazards. Slips and trips can result in back and neck injuries, concussions, broken bones, and other injuries and are particularly serious for the elderly.
When you’re stringing up holiday lights on your roof or at the tops of tall trees, make sure to properly adjust your ladder and place it on a solid, stable surface to prevent falls. Stay centered on the rails of the ladder and remember to move it, rather than overreach. Also, tape down decorations like tree skirts and loose extension cords to prevent them from becoming a tripping hazard.
These steps may seem tedious, but a study by the CDC estimated that more than 5,800 men and women are injured in fall-related injuries attributed to holiday decorating or related activities each season.
Cuts and Lacerations
It is also worth mentioning that holiday decorating or related activities may result in cuts or lacerations. While many of these injuries may seem minor, it is important to always be on the lookout for hazards to be safe, rather than sorry. We suggest ensuring ornaments are placed high enough on your tree if you have pets or children, or even blocking them from going near it. Fallen ornaments can not only become a tripping hazard but if shattered someone may step on broken pieces. Shatter-proof ornaments are a great option, as well.
As with any other time of the year, use caution operating knives in the kitchen and serving meals, and always cut away from yourself. Having a pair of scissors or a safe box opener on hand while opening presents is also helpful, as it may deter people from improvising on particularly stubborn gift wrap with pocket knives or other sharp apparatuses. It is not unheard of for people to receive bad paper cuts on gift wrap as well, so exercise caution during all the excitement of the holidays.
Feasting on our favorite foods is a holiday tradition, and we often enjoy these holiday meals in the company of our friends, relatives, and loved ones. While we are busy laughing and talking and eating, choking on food can be a real threat. Conversing with full mouths, or eating too quickly can create a choking hazard. And when foods aren’t properly cut into small pieces for children, choking is more common. When a person is choking, they can’t breathe, which puts them in a life-threatening position.
When eating holiday meals, be sure to eat slowly, take small bites, and don’t chew with your mouth full. Encourage children to do the same. Cut their food into bite-sized pieces and remember this list of most common choking hazards. Watch for the signs of choking, and equip yourself with the knowledge of what to do when someone starts choking to prevent trips to the hospital.
Burns and Fires
Whether you’re cooking over a hot stove, taking your famous pumpkin pie out of the oven, lighting festive candles, or throwing some logs on the fireplace, burns can happen at any time when you’re close to a heat source or open flame. If possible, to prevent burns, keep additional people out of the kitchen and away from hot stoves and surfaces. To avoid being scalded by hot foods, wait a little while before serving yourself or digging into your favorite dish, and don’t forget the potholders!
House fires can also be an issue during this time of year, as many people decorate with Christmas trees, candles, and holiday lights, inside and outside of their homes. If you’re buying a real Christmas tree, be sure it’s fresh and not too dried out (look for fresh, sticky sap), and always keep it away from sources of flame and heat like heaters, fireplaces, and candles. Before plugging in electric decorations like lights, check the wiring and sockets to make sure nothing is frayed or creates dangerous sparks. And always put candles on stable, fireproof surfaces away from pets and out of reach of children, so that they can’t tip over.
Many of the above issues are related to food or cooking, and food poisoning can also be a threat. This can happen when foods like meat, fish, and eggs aren’t properly prepared, and when leftovers aren’t properly stored, which can cause bacterial growth. Food poisoning can result in vomiting, nausea, and other alarming symptoms, and will often leave the victim feeling miserable. Though millions of people get sick from food poisoning each year, most people get over a case of food poisoning in a few days. However, it can be particularly dangerous to small children, seniors, and pregnant women. Food poisoning and food-borne illness can lead to more serious conditions like kidney failure or dehydration, which ultimately will result in a trip to the hospital at the very least, and death in serious cases.
To avoid food poisoning, pay attention to the use-by dates on foods, particularly meat, fish, and other perishables, and always store these foods in the fridge. Cook foods until they reach the recommended temperature, and always put leftovers away promptly. Store leftovers in a refrigerator or freezer kept at the proper temperature, and always discard any food that looks slimy or discolored, smells bad, or has visible mold.
Staying Safe This Holiday Season
Though you should be vigilant about the above issues all year long, the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the joy of the season can sometimes cause us to forget about the hazards that surround us every day. Much of staying safe during the holidays involves common sense. Things like not drinking and driving, not leaving hot stoves or candles unattended, and not eating too quickly may seem obvious. But by just taking a little time to remember these dangers, we can prevent a tragedy from happening during this time.
Whether you’re entertaining at your own home, traveling out of town to celebrate with others, or just spending your time shopping for the best deals on presents, a holiday safety checklist can help you be prepared for the unexpected. Many of the types of accidents detailed on this list can be prevented by staying alert and aware.
When To Consult A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
If you experience any of the issues on this list through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or illness. If you sustain an injury by tripping or slipping on someone else’s property or get sick or hurt due to someone else’s negligence, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer to find out what your next steps should be. Seeking legal advice may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s essential to so so as soon as possible after your accident.
When you get sick or hurt, you should always seek medical help first. Once you’ve consulted a doctor, report the incident. Keep track of exactly what happened, where and when it happened, and if there were any witnesses. Collecting witness testimony can help your cause, so be sure to keep track of their contact information. Before you make any statements to managers, landlords, or others, be sure to get in touch with a lawyer so you can work together to decide on the best course of action. Staying the wrong thing to the wrong people can jeopardize your case and prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been sick or injured during a holiday accident or any time of year, consult an experienced personal injury attorney who has your best interests at heart. Having an expert legal team on your side can provide you with the support and knowledge you need to make a successful claim. Shiner Law Group is Florida’s premiere team of personal injury lawyers, and we can help you make your case and get compensation.
Contact Shiner Law Group to learn more about your rights and get a free consultation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.