Holiday Accidents: Dangers and Risks during the Holiday Season

Holiday Accidents: Dangers and Risks during the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is next week! We’re in the midst of our busy holiday season, where things don’t slow down for most of us until mid-January.

Our hopes are that everyone in Indiana and Illinois has a wonderful time, full of fun and laughter.  Happy Holidays!

Sadly, it’s been our experience that this time of year is dangerous.  Accidents will happen here.  People will be victims of another’s negligence and suffer serious injuries.  Tragically, some may not survive those injuries; wrongful death claims do result from accidents that happen during the holidays.

The Danger of Holiday Accidents

Our last post warns of the dangers of children’s toys as part of the National Safe Toys and Games Month campaign, which kicks off on December 1st.  Today, our focus is other dangers and risks of injury during the next few weeks of festivities.

Did you know that some consider next week’s Thanksgiving holiday to be the deadliest time of year?  See “Here’s Why Thanksgiving Is the Deadliest Holiday of the Year,” by Michael Serrur, published on November 10, 2016, in the Daily Meal.  

Most serious injuries during the holidays are caused by known dangers and risks including:

1.  Motor Vehicle Accidents during Holiday Travel

There will be serious traffic accidents during the holiday season here in Indiana and Illinois, as well as across the country.  Historically, many lives are lost on holidays like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day in fatal car crashes.  At least a third of these traffic fatalities are caused by drunk or impaired drivers.

Holiday Travel Accidents

Many of us will be driving next week to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving.  This year’s Thanksgiving holiday is considered by researchers to extend from Wednesday, November 23 – Sunday, December 2.  It’s going to be a very busy time on our interstates as well as local roadways.  Before we drive away, it’s wise to be aware of the hazards we face in holiday travel.

There’s going to be traffic. 

AAA predicts almost 50,000,000 Americans (48.7M) will drive at least 50 miles from home to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  A record number of vehicles are predicted to be on the road.

That’s one million more Americans on the road than in 2015, and more people driving for Thanksgiving this year than any year since 2007.

National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) research reveals a surge in traffic accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  In 2012, for instance, 416 people died in Thanksgiving holiday traffic accidents.

There’s going to be drunk drivers and distracted drivers. 

Across Indiana and Illinois, there will be an increased police presence on the roads, trying to catch drunk drivers before an accident happens.  For instance, the Merrillville Police Department issued its press release two weeks ago;  from Merrillville:

… the department will be increasing patrols for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel period, November 11th through December 4th.  Merrillville Police officers will be joining more than 250 state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct high-visibility patrols, encouraging drivers and passengers to drive sober and buckle up.

As you drive, expect to see law enforcement on the lookout for drivers (and passengers) who are not wearing their safety belts as well as drivers who appear to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or driving while distracted.

Drunk or drugged driving is illegal in Indiana and Illinois.  Using your phone while driving may be an illegal distraction, depending upon how you are using the phone as well as your age (and which state law applies).

For more information, see our earlier posts, “ How Many Drunk Drivers Are There in Indiana and Illinois? The Danger of Drunk Driving Accidents Is High” and “Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents: How Much at Risk are You Here in Indiana and Illinois?

Teen Drivers at High Risk for Holiday Car Accidents

Warnings from NHTSA explain motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teen drivers (15-19 years old).

The dangers of teen drivers being involved in a serious auto accident only increase over the holiday season.  The temptation to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol is higher now.  Teenagers are on school holidays, with more opportunity to be driving on our roads.  Festive occasions and happy holiday spirits may also mean teen drivers are operating their vehicles as distracted drivers.

For more on the risk of a teen driver accident in Indiana or Illinois, read our earlier post, “Teen Drivers and Fatal Car Accidents: High Risk in Indiana and Illinois.”

2. Fires and Burn Injuries

People are going to be hurt over the holidays in home accidents, too.  Many of these incidents will be minor, causing embarrassment and a few days of pain and healing, but no long term effects. Others will not be so minor; home holiday hazards can result in life-altering accidents.

Of particular concern are fires and their resulting burn injuries.

Burn injuries are among the most painful kinds of injuries an accident victim can experience.  Even if the burn injuries are not life-threatening, they can result in serious and psychologically debilitating harm to the fire accident victim.

A.     Fireplaces and Candles

There’s something so wonderful about a fire in the fireplace or eating a meal by candlelight.  However, using candles in the home or at the office can cause a fire that turns serious quickly.  Fireplaces are especially dangerous as they are often decorated with seasonal items that are flammable, like ribbons, fabric stockings, and plastic garlands.

Decorating for the holidays can be the cause of a serious fire accident and burn injury.  Please consider carefully before decorating your fireplace with anything that is combustible.  Also, think about opting for flameless, battery-operated candles.  They offer a pretty, flickering light without a fire risk!

B. Thanksgiving Kitchen Fires

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports Thanksgiving Day is a very dangerous day from a burn risk perspective.

According to their research, around 1,300 kitchen fires happen on Thanksgiving during meal preparation in kitchens across America.  That is triple the number of kitchen fires on a daily U.S. average.

We suggest that you consider the risk of fire as you plan for your holiday meal.  Find ways to keep kids and visitors out of the kitchen area.  Don’t wear long sleeves near the oven or stove-top.  Use protective mitts for handling hot items.  And make sure you have lots of counter-top area to deal with hot pots and pans, as well as keeping handles turned to avoid spilling.

C.  Turkey Fryers

Surprisingly, a trending way to cook turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner is a growing danger for fires in homes across America.

Turkey fryers are advertised not only as being faster ways to cook your bird, but also a method that offers a tastier result.  However, the number of serious fires and burn injuries caused by turkey fryers is rising along with the product’s growing popularity.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 672 people have been injured in burns from using turkey fryers.   These things are dangerous!

If you do decide to fry your turkey, then try and set up your fryer far away from the house and from foot traffic (like the kids).  Make sure the fryer is on solid ground.  Make sure it’s an even footing, too.  Have a fire extinguisher ready in case the fryer flames up.  Always have lots of protective gear to use with the turkey fryer: a protective fire-retardant apron is a good idea, along with protective gloves.

Finally, make sure to have a dry turkey for the fryer, pat it down well.  Moisture on the bird can cause the oil to pop or fly out into the air, causing burn injuries.

This holiday season we all deserve a fun and safe time with family and friends.  Let’s be aware of the dangers we face during the next few weeks, and take steps to avoid hazards and risks to minimize the likelihood of a serious accident.  Let’s be careful out there!

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