It is important that we don’t overlook safety considerations amid the merriment of the holiday season. Many of the accouterments to holiday celebrations – from Christmas trees and other decorations to family meals and parties – can cause serious personal injuries and leave negligent hosts liable for harm.
With help from the Texas Department of Insurance and other sources, here are the Top Six safety considerations for the Holiday Season:
Slip-and-fall and tripping accidents are always a top cause of personal injury, particularly among children and older adults. But during the winter holidays, those of us who put up decorations increase the risk if we are negligent with ladders, step-stools, extension cords and clutter. If you must climb to hang decorations, use a ladder or proper step stool. If you use extension cords to plug in holiday decorations, make sure they do not cross doorways or other walkways. Clean up as you go; don’t leave decoration boxes or other items lying about where people can trip over them. Clean up promptly after opening presents Christmas Day.
Christmas is known as the season of light, but the warm glow of Christmas candles and other holiday lighting can cause fires and other sources of burn injury. If you decorate with lighted candles, do not leave them unattended and do not let them burn all the way down. Make sure candles are placed on table surfaces away from combustible materials. Do not use Christmas lights indoors that are meant for outdoor decoration. They burn hotter than indoor lights. To prevent overheating, pinching and fraying, do not run cords to decorations, lights, or heaters under carpet or rugs. Keep all potential sources of fire away from children.
The National Fire Protection Association says an average of 230 home fires begin with Christmas trees every year. Set your Christmas tree up away from heat sources and keep it watered so it does not dry out. The S. Fire Administration says you should not leave a real Christmas tree up longer than two weeks and should not use more than three strands of lights on it. Place a natural tree outside and recycle. Do not burn it.
Many of us drink and serve alcohol at holiday gatherings. But Christmas and New Year’s are among the deadliest holidays for motor vehicle accidents. Don’t add to the danger by being or serving a drunk driver. If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to one drink an hour and don’t drive. Don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach or while taking medication. If you are away from home, select a designated driver among your party who will not drink at all. If you serve alcohol, take responsibility for your guests. Serve food and nonalcoholic beverages, and step in if a guest imbibes too much alcohol.
Make sure food-related illness does not spoil your holidays – or the holidays of family and friends. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s four food safety rules: 1) CLEAN: Wash hands, cooking surfaces and utensils often. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water. 2) SEPARATE: Keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from prepared foods and eating surfaces to avoid cross-contamination. 3) COOK: Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature – 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for poultry. 4) CHILL: Store leftovers promptly in a refrigerator set to below 40°F. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
Sometimes it can all be too much. WebMD says heart attacks are more likely during the winter holiday season. Avoid overcommitting yourself by making a list of holiday activities and invitations, and pick those you most want to attend. Get family members and friends to help with shopping, decorating, entertaining (and planning for and cleaning up after entertaining). Set a budget for spending and stick to it. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook, and try to get enough sleep and exercise.
Get Plenty of Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends for us all to go to sleep at the same time every night and to rise at the same time each morning. This promotion of regular sleep in known as sleep hygiene. They also recommend sleeping in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment. And most importantly, avoid large meals before bedtime!
Child Passenger Safety
Make sure all passengers are buckled in. Also, make sure that all children are in a size-appropriate car seat. Data has shown that booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury in children ages 1 to 4 by 45%., according to the Center for Disease Control. Also, car seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants. So buckle up!
Designate a Driver
Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a night of holiday partying. Also, while on the road, be sure to switch drivers on long trips so that every driver is alert and aware of the road ahead.
Do Not Be Distracted
Put the cell phone down! Distracted driving accounts for one-quarter of all crashes. Don’t be a statistic and put the phone away. If you are traveling alone stop at a gas station or rest stop to check your map or make a call. Otherwise simply give phone duty to another person in the car.
Be prepared for heavy amounts of traffic. The holiday season is the highest time of the year in road travels and traffic accidents. Plan ahead and take alternate routes or longer, safer routes avoiding heavy traffic roads. Bring flashlights, matches, extra cell phone, food, and other necessities in the case of a blowout or if caught in a snowstorm.
Prepare To Travel This Holiday Season!
Traveling during the holiday season can be dangerous. Many people are on the road, some are in a rush and the weather is not always on your side. Deciding on when and how to travel can be difficult depending on how far you need to go. So what is the safest way to travel during the holiday season? Whether you need to book a flight today or start prepping the family car for tomorrow, it’s always better to prepare, stay safe and arrive alive.
Prepare For Your Road Trip
Traffic goes hand in hand with the holiday season like turkey and gravy. About 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is done so by a personal vehicle. If you decide to drive to your destination you will most likely encounter heavy amounts of traffic. Getting on and off exit ramps will be difficult and speeds may be slower than usual.
- Plan Ahead: Decide which roads to take and which not to take. Most major highways will have the majority of motorists on them while an alternative route will have a few. It may be longer mileage on the alternative route but at least you will avoid heavy congestion and save time.
- Consider Which Days to Travel: Avoid popular days for traveling. Usually, the day before or after a holiday is the busiest. Extend your trip a day or two to save yourself a headache and the potential risk.
- Be Prepared: Mother Nature is very unpredictable and we’ve all heard those stories of people getting stranded on a highway for hours at a time due to snow storms or worse. Pack your car with water, candles, matches, blankets, a small shovel, and food. Anything that will save your life in the event you get stranded or lost.
Prepare For Your Flight
Surprisingly, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 5 to 6 percent of holiday trips are by air. Although this statistic may entice people to travel by air instead of driving, this is still a very busy time for airports.
The New York Times reports that airports and airlines are bracing for what could be a record-setting year-end holiday season. With lower fuel prices keeping the price of tickets down, the coming holiday season could spur an increase in passengers and make airports more crowded than ever. So here are a few tips to help plan ahead and navigate through crowded check-ins and security lines.
- Pack Light: You won’t have to wait in long lines if you avoid checking in bags altogether. Try to take as little as you will need and be sure to have all of your medications and documents in your carry-on.
- Earplugs: The noise and sometimes chaotic environment of an airport can drive some people mad. Escape for a while and plugin so you can mentally escape for a while.
- Eat: Pack snacks, drinks, and other quick fixes so that you can think straight. Relying on the world’s tiniest bag of peanuts and pretzels isn’t going to hold over.
- Travel on the Day: If you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and swarms of traveler’s altogether. You’d be surprised to see how much of a difference it is.
The season can be both a joyous and dangerous time for travelers. Make sure you prepare and do what it takes to be safe and ensure everyone enjoys their holidays. If you have been in an accident, please call Herrman & Herrman to speak with an experienced car wreck attorney. Call 361-792-2358 to schedule a free consultation today.
General Tips For Holiday Travel
- Prepare safety measures for your home against while you are away, ensuring proper security systems are installed and in proper working conditions.
Ensure you do adequate car maintenance check, keep emergency safety kits, and check state laws of the course you’d drive. Ensure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up, and do away with any form of distraction.
- Know the terrain you’d be driving in, plan ahead and identify alternate routes, understand the safety regulations of driving on icy roads, how to maneuver your vehicle on such roads, and practice defensive driving. Also, check on the weather condition and know the climatic state of areas you’d be driving in through your course of travel.
- Make adequate plans for frequent rest stops, and not travel for too long each day. As it is essential to rest your legs to maintain your energy level and remain alert on the road.
Ensure you have the right gadget with you. Carry a mobile phone with you and charger, importantly a portable mobile travel charger and a car phone charger, and any navigation system of your choice.
- Keep a few bottles of water in handy to stay hydrated. As dehydration during a long drive can cause fatigue and decrease alertness which is dangerous on the road.
- Keep your hands clean and sanitized at all times, with soap and hand sanitizer, as it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle against contagious germs and diseases. Simultaneously considering the safety of your food during your trip, packing healthy nutritional food rather than fast foods.
Ensure someone close to you has a copy of your travel plans, contact information and keep copies of any form of your identification. And remember to drive safely.
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