Winter brings with it all sorts of safety concerns for accidents that can happen on the road, at home, or at work. Personal injury claims are filed in order to seek justice for those hurt in accidents caused by things like fire, ice, carbon monoxide fumes, and other dangers to life and limb. State and federal laws protect accident victims from things like defective products; drunk drivers; on the job injuries; medical errors, and more.
It’s important to have legal avenues for justice and lawyers ready to help victims in need.
Of course, the better result is accident prevention, no negligence or error, and not having an innocent person hurt in the first place. To that end, we provide the following compilation of safety tips for the holiday season and the winter months ahead.
1. Fire Injuries
It’s not really a big surprise that winter is the season when most fires are reported; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research has been studied to confirm that winter is the most dangerous time for a residential fire. And, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), winter fires are a real concern.
- 905 people die in winter home fires each year.
- $2,091,000,000 in property loss occurs from winter home fires.
- 67 percent of winter fires occur in one- and two-family homes.
- Cooking is the leading cause of all winter home fires.
- 5 to 8 p.m. is the most common time for winter home fires.
1. Never leave a fire unsupervised; this includes fireplaces as well as candles, stoves, and grills.
2. Make sure that candle flames are a good distance away from drapery as well as safe from being turned over by your kids, your dogs, or your curious cat.
3. Don’t use a generator that burns gas or charcoal inside your home or garage.
4. Don’t use a barbecue grill inside your home or garage.
5. Make sure to have smoke detectors inside your house and that the batteries are working.
6. Plug only ONE heat-generating appliance into an outlet at a time. (Remember: both a space heater and a blow dryer are heat-generating appliances.)
7. Have your chimney and vents inspected by a professional inspector every year.
8. Watch the kids — don’t let anything that can burn get within 3 feet of a space heater, fireplace, or stove. Paper, clothing, and other flammable material can catch fire at a distance many assume to be safe.
9. Holiday meals are the start of many home fires: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day are the three highest days for residential fires caused by cooking. Most of these cooking fires are caused by the cook leaving things unattended. Never leave your kitchen when you’re using the stove, oven, or grill.
10. On New Year’s Eve, leave the fireworks to the professionals. Even if local ordinances allow you to purchase and enjoy fireworks, the dangers are great. According to NFPA, the risk of a death by fire because of fireworks in this country is greater than for cigarettes, and many more are injured in fireworks accidents.
Source: FEMA, CDC, and NFPA
2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The months of December and January are the most dangerous for carbon monoxide poisoning according to the National Safety Council and the Consumer Protection Safety Administration. What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that is given off by fuel being burned in the engines of cars or RVs. It is also given off by burning fire in stoves, grills, home fireplaces, gas ranges, or gas furnaces.
The key to having gas appliances is to have proper ventilation for the toxic carbon monoxide gas fumes. If there isn’t proper ventilation, the gas fumes accumulate and build up. Any living animal — people and pets — can inhale these toxic fumes and die from them.
Here are some tips to keep your loved ones safe from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Replace the battery for all carbon monoxide detectors in your home twice a year (say spring and fall).
- Do not heat your home with the kitchen’s gas stove.
- Do not run your car engine inside an attached garage.
- Make sure that your gas appliances are properly vented to the outdoors.
- Never use a flameless chemical heater inside the house.
- Never use a generator inside your home.
- If the CO Alarm starts sounding an alarm, take it seriously. Do the following:
- Get everyone (including the pets) outside into fresh air immediately.
- Call the fire department (or 911).
- Don’t go back inside until the emergency responders tell you it’s okay to return.
3. Winter Travel Accidents and Crashes
Most of us will be traveling on winter roads on a daily basis, going to work or school. And many of us will be taking trips to visit family and friends over the holidays. We discuss the dangers of driving on the highways and interstates of Indiana and Illinois here, especially the risks of sharing the roads with all the big rig semi trucks (see this post as an example); however, there are lots of tips to consider including these we’ve compiled from the CDC and AAA:
- Check the weather forecast for the day before you leave the house and plan accordingly.
- Don’t travel if the weather forecasts are advising people to stay off the roads.
- On a winter trip, call and let them know when you expect to get there and the road you’re taking.
- Have your car stocked with emergency supplies in case of unexpected events, including special things needed by elderly passengers or young children.
- Check the tires for good tread and proper inflation.
- Keep your gas tank half-full so the gas line doesn’t freeze.
- Check your brakes and make sure they are in good condition.
- Never use cruise control if you are driving in rain, snow, or freezing weather.
- Make sure everyone is wearing their safety belts.
- If you can, travel the roads at off-peak traffic times.
Winter weather here in Indiana and Illinois can be very severe and dangerous. People get hurt both at home and at work or school in accidents tied directly to the winter conditions. Traffic accidents caused by winter conditions are also a big danger for all of us driving in this part of the country for the next few months.
Let’s stay safe — Be Careful Out There!