The holiday season is a time for family, but we all want the season to be safe and secure. Unfortunately, while the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be a lot of fun, all the activity brings with it an increased possibility of accident and injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that as many as 15,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms for injuries every holiday season just for putting up holiday decorations alone, and every year, that number increases.
The Hill Law Firm wants everyone to get through the 2017 holiday season in good health and without an injury, which is why we are offering these safety tips. If you follow these tips and guidelines, you will hopefully know what to look out for and make it through the holiday season without becoming a statistic.
Avoid electrical hazards
Of course, the holidays are a wonderful time for giving and spending time with family and friends, but ‘tis also the season for overburdened extension cords and tangled Christmas lights. You can keep everyone safe by untangling all light strings before plugging them in. Also, use long heavily insulated extension cords to cover distances. Never string cheap extension cords together. Avoid using too many adaptors and plugging too many items into a single outlet. Be aware that not all outdoor lights are made for wet weather, so make sure they’re safe in the rain. They are more expensive, but LED lights have the highest safety ratings of any other bulb on the market.
Follow basic ladder safety guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established ladder safety guidelines, which can be appropriate for putting up decorations, both inside and outside. Be sure your ladder is appropriate for the height you plan to climb. When climbing a ladder, face the ladder and climb with both hands. Always make sure your body weight is centered between the supports. Wear sturdy slip-proof footwear; no slippers or flip-flops. Never use the top two steps of a stepladder to either stand on or to store equipment. Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times, because that has been proven to prevent falls.
Reduce the possibility of fire
Fires are far more common during the Christmas season than at many other times of the year, so take precautions. Test your lights before you put them up and make sure all electrical wiring is intact. If there is even a small nick, replace it. Do not hide wiring under rugs because constant walking can cause excessive hidden wear and tear. Most importantly, if you have a real Christmas tree, keep it properly watered or you could create a fire hazard in your family room. Don’t use candles near a real Christmas tree.
Make sure your tree is safe
Speaking of Christmas trees, be careful where you place it. A large tree could create serious injury if it tips over, especially to pets and small children. The best place for the tree is the corner of the room, away from traffic. Make sure the tree is secure in a base that will prevent it from toppling over. If possible, secure it to a wall.
Keep small Christmas decorations out of the reach of small children
When it comes to decorations with very small parts, keep in mind those small parts can create a choking hazard for small children. Among the most common holiday decorations hazards include ornaments with tree hooks and decorative pieces that are very colorful, but which are not glued securely onto the decorative piece.
Before buying presents for children, do your research
When buying toys for children, make sure they are age appropriate, since there are good reasons some toys are marked for children of a particular age. Quite often, toys for older children have small parts that can create a choking hazard, for example. Likewise, if a toy looks slightly dangerous, assume that it is. Don’t look for bargains by shopping for toys that don’t meet required safety standards.
Keep items out of walkways
Slip, trip and fall accidents are far too common in the home during the holiday season. To prevent those, keep wires, cables and other types of clutter out of walkways. Keep wires and cables securely wrapped and out of the way, although not under a rug or carpet. Keep gifts and other items organized and as neat as possible. Pick up toys and wrapping as you go, and keep them out of walkways.
Keep safety scissors handy for opening packages
In many ways, opening wrapped gifts is a focus of the holidays, and everyone should be able to do that safely, especially young children. Safety scissors are far safer to use than a knife when it comes to cutting a ribbon or opening paper and they can prevent a trip to the emergency room.
Prepare tools ahead of time to safely assemble toys
As you wrap gifts, keep track of which tools you will need to assemble them safely and then make sure tools are used as intended; use a screwdriver to uncover a secure battery compartment or to tighten or loosen a screw, not to open a package.
When installing and plugging in new gifts, do so safely
Getting new gifts is exciting; we and to see them in action immediately. However, focus on using them safely. When something is plugged in to make sure it works, don’t string the electrical cord across a walkway. Also, devices come with instructions for a reason; they offer a path to is to the safest possible use. Read and follow instructions. For one thing, it leads to the safe use of your new gift, but it also sets a great example for the kids.
Make a plan for preparing Christmas dinner
Too many holiday accidents occur around Christmas dinner. Often, there are too many people rushing around each other in the kitchen, which can lead to injuries like burns and cuts from knives and other sharp objects. Too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to spills that can result in a slip, trip or fall. By setting a schedule, you can also keep track of foods, especially the turkey, and prevent possible contamination with food-borne pathogens. Food that has been left out too long at room temperature is especially susceptible. It is also important to use utensils such as knives once before cleaning and don’t use one knife to cut raw meat and to dice vegetables, which is a breeding ground for foodborne illness. By planning the meal, you make cooking and eating safer for everyone.
If you drink, do not get behind the wheel
Unfortunately, the holiday season is often one of the busiest times of the year for DUI because there is increased alcohol consumption and too many make the dangerous decision to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks. If you have egg nog, beer or mixed drinks, hand the keys to someone else. Just as importantly, if you see a friend or family member has had a few too many, hide their keys or otherwise prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car and putting everyone else at risk.