The last thing you should have to worry about this holiday season is suffering a personal injury. Unfortunately, accident rates go up, not down, during the holidays. More traffic on the roads, out-of-town drivers, weather-related risks, flu season, and fire hazards can all threaten your family’s safety during the fall and winter months. Instead of spending the holidays in the hospital, spend them at home with a few precautions. Do your part to prevent injuries to yourself and others by following these safety tips from our Kansas City injury lawyers:
Avoid Traveling on the Holidays
Memorial Day and Thanksgiving have the most accident-related deaths out of all holidays, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The week of Thanksgiving sees 50 deaths more per day on average than other weeks of the year. Drinking and driving, speeding, and weather contribute to the increase in fatal holiday-time accidents. The best way to stay safe from holiday car accidents is not to drive on or around holidays, if possible.
Holiday travel may be inevitable if you live far away from your family. If you must hit the road around the holidays, do so safely. Inspect your vehicle and schedule repairs as necessary before you go. Map out the safest route before you leave, making sure to check the upcoming weather in your destination city. Never drive drunk, drowsy, or distracted. Bring a companion with you if you’ll be taking a long road trip for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Prevent Space Heater House Fires
Some holiday risks exist right at home. One of the most serious is the risk of a house fire. Space heaters cause a surprising number of home structural fires every year. The most dangerous types of space heaters are those you use year after year. Always have a professional inspect your space heaters for structural integrity before plugging them in each winter. Damage to electrical and heating components or damage to wires could spark a fire if you’re not careful. Toss out an old, damaged space heater and opt for a safer new one if you’re worried about the performance of your heaters.
Practice Safely Decorating
Christmas trees are a significant fire hazard in thousands of households every year. They are responsible for roughly 200 house fires and six related deaths per year on average, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Christmas trees – especially dry or dead ones – act as fodder for house fires, lighting up in just seconds. Combined with warm string lights and potential electrical problems, Christmas trees are highly prone to disaster.
Other types of holiday decorations also pose fire risks. Every year, holiday decorations (excluding Christmas trees), such as Halloween decorations, cause an average of 840 house fires. Oftentimes, homeowners place their flammable decorations too close to a source of fire or heat. Candles start more than one-third of home decoration fires each year. Other times, décor in the kitchen catches on fire from being too close to the oven. More than one-fifth of house fires start in the kitchen.
Prevent Drunk Driving
Drunk drivers killed an estimated 10,487 people in the U.S. in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of drunk drivers on the road increases every year around the fall and winter holidays. After people drink to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, many will make the wrong choice and decide to drive home. This can lead to serious and fatal drunk-driving accidents, such as head-on collisions and T-bone accidents at intersections.
Do your part to prevent drunk driving by being a responsible driver and social host. Never get behind the wheel after consuming one or more alcoholic beverages. Although the legal drinking limit in Kansas and Missouri is 0.08%, you can get a driving under the influence (DUI) charge for a smaller amount if it impaired your senses. As a social host, make sure all your guests have safe, sober rides home – even if that means confiscating keys and calling cabs or rideshare services.