All injury attorneys in San Antonio and the rest of Texas see an uptick in cases during certain Holidays. Christmas is no different. There are more people on the road, more parties involving alcohol, and more fire hazards present.
San Antonio Attorney Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
We are now in December, which means everybody is full on Christmas mode. We’ve put away the pumpkin spice lattes, we’ve shelved the cornucopia and turkey and dressing until next year.
Now, we’re onto peppermints and hot chocolate and Christmas trees and all the wonderful things associated with Christmas. Another thing about Christmas, though, it is associated with lots of its own specific dangers. We want to talk a little bit about this. The great people at the National Safety Council, which is one of America’s leading non-profits regarding safety information and safety advocacy, has put together some holiday safety information. I wanted to share that with our listeners.
It’s truly broken down into two things, or three things. We’re going to be on the road a lot. We’re going to be decorating. Lots of things involve fire this time of year, so let’s talk about that. The holidays are a dangerous time to be on the road. I think, in 2017, they said there was almost 300 deaths on Christmas Day on the roadways. Alcohol was a factor in a third of those.
What we know is that people go out and they celebrate on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve. People travel for Christmas, a lot of people are on the roadways. A few things, it’s cold outside, prepare your car for winter travel. Depending on where you are in Texas, that probably don’t mean much, other than to watch the news, watch the weather, make sure you’re not driving into an eye storm, especially if you’re going up to North Texas, like where I am from.
Here, in beautiful San Antonio, I think it’s probably unlikely that there will be much ice on the road or snow on the road or the need for change or anything like that. Depending on where you are and where you’re traveling, make sure you prepare for the weather, whatever that may mean, and prepare for a breakdown in cold weather as well, just in case that were to happen.
If you’re going for a long drive, make sure you get a good night sleep. You don’t want to be fatigued or drowsy while you’re driving. Also, don’t drink and drive. A lot of people like to celebrate the holidays with a drink or two or too many. Just make sure that you don’t get behind the wheel after that. Plan your travel ahead. Traffic during the holidays picks up. Plan your travel so that you know where the traffic is, maybe how to avoid it, and then you have plenty of time to get to where you need to be.
You may have people in the car with you. Avoid distractions. Make sure that you’re not on the phone or watching a TV or not paying attention. Make sure everybody in your car is buckled up. This might be one of the only times a year that everybody is in the car together. Make sure that you follow all safety protocols with your kids and/or family in the car.
Be a defensive driver because, remember, some of those other people on the road will have partied too much and may be a drowsy driver. Pay attention to those on the road. Next thing we want to talk about is decorating safely. In our house, we say, “You got to be careful with poinsettias because they can kill dogs.” Poinsettias and things like that can also poison children, so be careful with the plants that you use.
Be careful with the tree that you use. If you’ve got a artificial tree, make sure it’s fire-resistant. If you have a real tree, make sure it’s fully watered and there’s no source of flame around it, because those trees go up like a match. When I was a young kid, my dad took ours out into the field and set it on fire just to see how bad it really was. It just went up like a match. Imagine that happening in your home.
Also, make sure that you do all the proper things you’re supposed to do with a live tree. Make sure you water it, make sure it’s cut sufficiently. Make sure that it’s in the right place and there’s not a tip over hazard and all those types of things. Be careful with the ornaments you put on the tree. We’ve all seen Home Alone, where the guy steps on the ornaments. That’s real life.
A friend of mine on Facebook posted yesterday that he had to go to the hospital because he stepped on a Christmas light. Same difference is a Christmas ornament that they can cut and go into your foot. Be careful with what you put on the tree, especially if you have children, for choking hazards or break hazards and things like that.
Be careful while you’re hanging lights. Every year, people fall off ladders and some of the nastiest injuries I see are related to falls from ladders. Be careful if you’re up on a ladder, putting up lights. I personally don’t do it. If I do decide to do that, I will hire a contractor who has all the proper equipment and is more familiar with and uses ladders more often than I do.
A lot of people, it’s the first time, and the only time they’ll get on the ladder all year, is to hang Christmas lights. That is not somebody that has a lot of experience at the time, getting on ladders if they’re doing it once a year. Make sure that you don’t have shorts in any of your lights. Make sure you’re not overloading your electrical system. Just be careful for all of the wonderful things we love about Christmas and make sure that you are decorating your house safely.
The last thing I want to talk about is fire safety. We’ve all seen the fire department videos of turkey fryers setting houses on fire. This time a year, if you’re using turkey fryers or deep fryers, be careful. If you’re running a fire, make sure your chimney is cleaned out, because people don’t, maybe, fully appreciate it. The chimneys can catch on fire if they’re not cleaned. My understanding, based on discussions with some people, is once that sat creosote cake in your fireplace catches fire, it burns at an extremely high temperature.
Again, be careful with your outdoor fireplaces, indoor fireplaces, trees that are flammable, plants that are flammable, all your wonderful candles this time a year and the lights that you use. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate. It’s also a time to be very careful about all of the things that are new. We don’t have trees year round, so tree safety isn’t a big part of our day-to-day thinking. Be careful, enjoy the holidays. Be safe for yourself, but also be safe for the others on the road and others in your home. Merry Christmas from all of us at Hill Law Firm.
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