Holiday Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Four people surrounded by lights in winter

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, the holidays are a time for cheer — and fear! Every year, thousands of people wind up in the hospital because they tripped on an extension cord, fell off a ladder, sparked a tree fire, or succumbed to some other winter-specific fiasco.

Follow these holiday safety tips so you can relax and focus on what really matters: presents.

What Are the Most Common Holiday Incidents and Injuries?

Many holiday injuries involve food or decorations. Hanging ornaments or frying a turkey might seem harmless enough, but there are a lot of factors at play that can spur a trip to the emergency room and a not-at-all-jolly hospital bill:

  • Decorations can be more hazardous than they sound, especially if someone is on the roof, scaling a rickety ladder, or carrying a tangled nest of cords. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are around 200 decorating-related injuries every day during the holidays in the United States. That’s 18,000 injuries over just a few months, with most of these involving falls.
  • Cooking fires are the leading cause of residential fires year-round, but they are especially common in November and December, when families gather to feast. Unattended food is a disaster waiting to happen, and turkey fryers are a menace, particularly when people attempt to deep-fry frozen birds (do not do this).
  • Toys, like decorations, can be surprisingly pernicious. Adults slip on playthings left on the floor, while kids can choke, cut, burn, or otherwise maim themselves (depending on the toy). In 2018, the CPSC reports that “there were 166,200 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries.”
  • Lights, candles, fireplaces, and space heaters are all — you guessed it — fire hazards. According to the CPSC, from 2014 to 2016, there were 1,100 candle fires and 100 Christmas tree blazes, which resulted in almost $50 million worth of property damage.

How Can I Avoid Injuries This Holiday Season?

Don’t celebrate anything; just pretend it’s June. We’re kidding, of course. There are some actions you can take to curb the risk of catastrophe over the next few weeks:

  • Follow ladder safety tips (e.g., have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder, make sure your steps are slip-resistant).
  • Get a fresh or fire-resistant tree and keep it away from heat sources.
  • Never leave the food you’re cooking unattended.
  • Keep children away from hot surfaces and food items.
  • Use turkey fryers outside and away from your home (or don’t use them at all).
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in a fireplace, which can lead to flash fires.
  • Check lights and extension cords to make sure they aren’t damaged.
  • Extinguish all candles before going to bed or leaving your home.

If I Am Injured Over the Holidays, What Should I Do?

Depending on the injury, you may want to contact an attorney to see if you can file a lawsuit and recover compensation — even if you think the incident was your fault. For example, if you accidentally started a fire in your home but your smoke alarm malfunctioned, leading to even more damage, you could potentially hold the alarm manufacturer accountable.

Whatever the scenario, if you or a loved one falls victim to a holiday hazard, it’s worth speaking with an attorney to learn if you might be owed money. At Morgan & Morgan, we’re open 24/7/365, consultations are free, and it costs nothing upfront to hire us. We collect a fee only if you recover money in a jury verdict or settlement.

So stay safe, have a happy holiday, and rest assured that we’re here if you need us. ?

By Staff

Writer