Holiday Safety

There are accidents and incidents every day of the year and for the most part they happen to other people so we don’t worry too much and just get on with our lives.  The holiday season is different; there are some types of accidents and incidents we see with increased frequency and it is worthwhile thinking about how to prevent them.  
Around the home, the holidays involve cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and with that an increased risk of fire and accidents.   The holiday season also involves parties with friends and co-workers and a risk of over-imbibing and auto accidents.  Presents, late hours shopping and cash create increased risk for theft.   

Around the home, Christmas trees and lighting seem to be the principal safety hazards.  According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are about 240 Christmas tree related fires every year and another 150 fires related to decorative lighting.  These fires result in an average of 21 deaths and $25 million in direct property damage every year.  About 5800 people a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for lighting related falls.  Make sure you check your Christmas lights carefully for frayed or broken wiring, don’t overload circuits, and don’t hang lights near flammable materials.  Modern LED lights are cooler than the incandescent type but you still need to be concerned about electrical shorts or plugs not fully seated.  If you are going to hang lights, choose a step stool or ladder and, not a chair and refresh your knowledge of ladder safety – http://www.laddersafety.org/basicladdersafety.aspx.  

In your car, it is important to remember that any holiday brings an increased risk because there are more people on the road.  One fact stands out among auto fatalities on all holidays – between 35% and 40% of fatal accidents involve alcohol.  This is a statistic that may be getting better in Washington as the figures for DUI arrests over the Christmas holiday was down from previous years. Still, the best advice for reducing your risk remains – don’t drink and drive and avoid any distractions that may turn your attention from the road.  It only takes seconds of inattention to create and accident or lose the opportunity to avoid one.  Around here there are often emphasis patrols over the holidays – you do not want to see your Washington auto insurance rates go up.  

On a personal level, you can take steps to avoid being a victim.  Both car prowls and home burglaries spike around the holidays Experts in law enforcement suggest being careful not to put attractive things where they can be easily seen.  This applies to both house and car. Keep presents out of sight in the trunk of your car while shopping; don’t display valuable items in the windows of your home or where they can be readily seen from the windows.  Be mindful of your surroundings – if you see someone who looks like they may be watching you, take extra care to put things away and lock up tight. 

Have a happy holiday season and stay safe out there!

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