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The holidays are here. Time for holiday cheer and celebration. It’s also a time when the risks for having an accident increase. Car accidents. Falls when holiday decorating. Toy-related injuries. Mishaps at the Mall. Fires and more. Knowing what some of the holiday accidents & injuries are may help you avoid some serious injury this holiday season (and trips to the emergency room).
The most dangerous time to be on the road starts the night before Thanksgiving and ends after the New Year. Why? Increase in traffic on the road. Increase in driving under the influence. More fatigued and stressed drivers. More distractions with things such as holiday lights.
The National Safety Council estimates that more than 600 people die on the road in the U.S. during the days surrounding Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. During the 2019 holiday period, 38% of driving fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
Alcohol-related accidents spike during the holidays. Not only that, but driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Missing just one or two hours of sleep can elevate crash risks similar to risks posed by someone driving under the influence (and above the legal limit).
Our roads are also subject to adverse conditions due to rain, snow and ice. With daylight savings time, there are fewer daylight hours affecting highway visibility. More pedestrians are out during the holidays and more roadway travel is occurring. All of this has the potential for leading to more car-related injuries and accidents.
Avoid an accident: Drive sober, avoid distractions while driving (or walking), drive at safe speeds, reduce your following distance during congested traffic or when weather conditions are poor, and buckle up. Call for a taxi or rideshare service or designate a driver.
Falls from ladders are more common during the holidays as people are putting up holiday lights and decorations on rooftops and other high places.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 160 decorating-related injuries occur each day in the U.S. during the holiday season. Almost half of those accidents involve falls which often lead to broken bones, concussions and pulled muscles.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year, holiday decorations are responsible for more than 12,000 emergency room visits due to falls, cuts and shocks.
Avoid an accident: Falling off a ladder or step stool can result in serious injuries, especially to the back. Only use ladders approved for their height and have someone act as a spotter, especially when climbing to greater heights. Be sure to follow a ladder’s safety instructions and check it for broken or worn parts, run lighting cords against baseboards and safely clear walkways of snow and ice to create a safe walking path.
About 25% of Christmas tree fires are the result of electrical problems or heat sources (electric lights, fireplaces, candles) kept too close to the tree. And, about half of holiday decoration fires occur because decorations are placed too close to a heat source.
Shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are typically not a hazard; however a dry and neglected tree can be.
When you add candles, overloaded electric outlets and a Christmas tree, the chance of a fire goes up. Data from 2016 to 2018 reveals that during the months of November and December of those years, Christmas trees caused 100 fires and candles caused 1,000 fires in the U.S.
From 2015-2019 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 7,400 home structure fires that were started by candles per year, which caused an annual average of 90 deaths and 670 injuries.
Avoid an accident. Keep live Christmas trees watered and be sure artificial trees are fire resistant. Do not daisy-chain lights (plugging one light or extension cord into another); this can overload electrical sockets or melt wiring and cause a fire. Keep burning candles in sight away from flammable items and never leave a burning candle in an unattended room. LED Christmas lights and flameless candles are safer options.
Many toys have small parts that can easily be bitten or twisted off, such as buttons and eyes, causing a young child to choke, so be sure to check for small parts or choking hazards.
If you are buying new electronics, keep an eye on the button batteries. Each year in the U.S., more than 2,800 children are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries. Button batteries are used in things such as remote controls, calculators, watches, key fobs, musical greeting cards, flashing holiday jewelry, decorations and more.
In 2020, emergency department staff across the country treated almost 150,000 toy-related injuries among children age 14 and younger. Nonmotorized scooters accounted for 21% of those injuries.
Avoid an accident. ALWAYS check to make sure there are no product recalls on the toys. Make sure to supervise children using new toys, always follow the instructions and make sure it is an age appropriate toy or device. With scooters or other riding toys, use protective gear and a helmet. Keep small parts and packing materials away from small children. Designate a spot for toys once they are opened up (minimizes trip and fall hazards).
Yes, there are accidents that occur when crowds get out of control during the holidays; however, you are more likely to suffer an accident due to a slippery sidewalk or distracted walking.
About 21,000 children under the age of 5 are taken to emergency departments for injuries related to shopping carts each year.
One of the most dangerous places during the holidays is the mall parking lot. With increased traffic from holiday shoppers, accidents tend to rise this time of year. Pay attention to where you are walking and not the device in your hand.
Avoid an accident. Always be aware of your surroundings. If you are outside or in a parking lot, watch out for slippery paths due to snow or ice. In the mall, try to walk outside the crowds and other shoppers. Shop at less peak times. Watch children and practice safe shopping cart protocol (sit in the seat buckled up, no sitting in the basket).
We all love to hang mistletoe and holly or decorate with a poinsettia to show our Christmas spirit. What you may not know is that mistletoe, holly berries, poinsettias, and many breeds of Christmas trees can actually be poisonous if ingested.
Avoid an accident. Be sure to keep these plants away from young children as well as pets and keep the number for poison control handy.
These are a few of the mishaps and accidents that can occur around the holidays. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to avoid you or someone in your family suffering serious injury. When you are seriously injured, call Nash & Franciskato at (877) 284-6600. We have a successful track record of helping accident victims collect the compensation they deserve.
One of our experienced staff will speak with you personally and will provide you with a free, no-obligation review of your case.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published November 6, 2018. It was reviewed on December 16, 2022, updated for content and accuracy and re-published on December 16, 2022.