The most festive time of the year can also be one of the most dangerous. In addition to the usual perils of winter in Michigan, the weeks leading up to and following the holidays are fraught with additional hazards on the road and at home. Here are some proven holiday safety tips to help you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable season.
The following advice comes from experts in a variety of consumer safety organizations that include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Safety Council, Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
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HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT IN-HOME ACCIDENTS
While many Michiganders think winter driving is the most dangerous cold-weather activity, more accidents happen at home than on the road. Fortunately, these simple holiday safety tips can help prevent many of these mishaps.
REDUCE THE RISK OF RESIDENTIAL FIRES
- Make sure your house has sufficient smoke detectors on each floor and inside every bedroom. Test the batteries monthly and replace as needed.
- The majority of residential fires begin in the kitchen, so keep a working fire extinguisher within easy reach of the oven or stove.
- Do not use adapters to overload electrical outlets.
- Use extension cords sparingly and unplug them when not in use.
- Keep decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, candles and other heat sources.
- Make sure all candles are extinguished and no flames or glowing ashes remain in the fireplace before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Check holiday lights and discard those with frayed cords or damaged sockets.
- Hang stockings elsewhere if you use your fireplace.
- Keep natural Christmas trees watered and discard outside when the needles turn brown. Do not keep dead trees in the basement or garage.
- Keep space heaters away from flammable items such as curtains or Christmas trees and turn them off before going to bed or leaving the house.
AVOIDING DECORATING DANGERS
- Be careful when using ladders or stepstools and avoid climbing on chairs or furniture to hang decorations or reach high shelves.
- Do not run electrical cords under rugs or furniture, out of windows or across walkways and driveways.
- Choose an artificial tree with a “fire resistant” label.
- Place breakable ornaments out of the reach of young children.
Recommended reading: Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE DURING THE HOLIDAYS
- Make sure toys for children under three do not have small parts or other choking hazards.
- For young children, avoid toys with button batteries or magnets, which can be dangerous if swallowed.
- For children under 10, avoid toys that require plugging into an electrical outlet or make sure there is adult supervision.
- Avoid decorations with potentially poisonous plants such as mistletoe, holly berries and Jerusalem cherries.
- Make sure helmets are provided for riding toys such as scooters or bicycles.
To find out about holiday toy safety and recalls, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
SAFE FOOD HANDLING TECHNIQUES
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other foods and disinfect counters and cutting boards that come in contact with these items.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to safe internal temperatures, 145F for beef and other meat, 160F for ground meat and 165F for poultry.
- Refrigerate hot or cold food after two hours at room temperature.
- Store leftovers in airtight wrap or containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Discard refrigerated items after three or four days. While frozen leftovers do not go bad, it is best to eat them within three to four months to avoid loss of moisture and flavor.
- Make sure all cooking utensils, pots and pans and surfaces used for food preparation are clean.
AVOIDING OUTDOOR SAFETY HAZARDS
- Prevent slip and fall accidents by side-stepping icy walkways, wearing appropriate footwear for winter weather conditions and avoiding distractions such as cell phones when walking.
- Avoid frostbite and hypothermia by limiting time outside when temperatures are below freezing. Wear warm gloves or mittens, a hat that covers the head and ears, thick socks and water-resistant boots or shoes.
- Shoveling snow, especially in cold weather, can strain the heart and cause back or shoulder injuries. Shovel snow when it is fresh and powdery rather than struggling with heavy, densely packed snow. Take a break if you start to feel pain or exhaustion. Those with a history of heart disease should not shovel snow under any conditions.
- When using a snow blower, never add fuel when it is running and avoid straining the back when pushing the machine.
TIPS FOR SAFER SHOPPING TRIPS
- You can take advantage of those post-Christmas sales without endangering your physical or financial well-being.
- Winter sales bring increased traffic to malls and shopping centers, so use extra caution in parking lots.
- Park in well-lit areas whether you are on the street, in parking lots or multi-level structures.
- Stow previous purchases and other valuables in the trunk of your vehicle instead of the passenger section.
- Keep receipts in your wallet or purse rather than leaving them in the bag.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash when shopping.
- Carry only the credit cards you need.
- Check bank and credit card records regularly during the holiday season and report any suspicious activity immediately.
- Never leave children unattended in a car or retail establishment.
Recommended reading: Personal Injury: Common Detroit Shopping Mall Accidents
PREVENTING AUTO ACCIDENTS
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and do everything possible to prevent others from doing so.
- Reduce speed and increase following distance to accommodate snow, slippery roads and reduced visibility.
- Avoid distracting behaviors such as using cell phones, programming GPS devices, eating and drinking and tending to children while driving.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes an extra cell phone charger, jumper cables, blankets, non-perishable food and water, flares, a flashlight and extra coats and gloves.
- Check the car battery, lights and fluid levels before heading out on the road.
- Plan your route and let someone else know where you will be and when to expect you.
- Make sure children have the appropriate car seats and booster seats for their age and size.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY
During the busy holiday season and beyond, even the most careful driver can be involved in a crash. If you or a loved one is injured in a Michigan car accident, we can help. Our experienced lawyers have the expertise and resources to build a successful case and win the compensation you deserve.
Car accident law is complicated, but finding the right Michigan car accident lawyer is simple.
Get your case started today by clicking on the link below or calling 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team.
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