Enjoy the holidays, without a trip to the ER

Young woman wearing hardhat and safety glasses plugging in Christmas tree lights

The holidays are here! Will you be celebrating with holiday lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations? Here are some important safety tips to help you avoid being one of the estimated 15,000 people who will experience a home fire or end up in the ER this holiday season.

Take care with candles. Never leave candles unattended. Keep burning candles in sight, away from places where kids and pets can reach them or knock them over. Lit candles should be placed away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

Inspect your holiday lights. Purchase your lights from a reputable retailer. Check lights for the mark of an independent safety testing laboratory. Examine new and old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Do not use damaged light sets.

Keep live trees hydrated. Each year, hundreds of home fires nationwide are caused by live trees igniting, resulting in nearly one dozen deaths, dozens of injuries and approximately $16 million in property losses. Take steps to avoid a tree fire. Check for freshness when purchasing a live tree. The needles should be hard to pull from branches and shouldn’t break when bent. Preserve your tree while it is in your home by placing it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces or heating vents.

Be careful with ladders. Each year, many people are rushed to emergency rooms after falling from ladders. Read  “Ladder Safety 101” for tips to prevent ladder falls this season.

Buy age-appropriate toys. Play it safe this holiday season. Avoid toys with small parts for children younger than the age of 3. Make sure you’re purchasing toys that are age-appropriate. Don’t forget to include safety gear if you’re gifting a bicycle, scooter or other sports equipment.

Texting isn’t the only dangerous behind-the-wheel activity

transportation and vehicle concept - man drinking coffee and using phone while driving the carWhen someone mentions “distracted driving,” what do you think about? Most likely, it’s texting while driving. It’s a major cause of car accidents. But did you know that texting isn’t the only dangerous activity you can take part in while you’re driving?

Any distraction that takes your eyes —and mind — off the road has the potential to cause an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each day accidents caused by distracted drivers kill at least nine people and injure more than 1,153.

Most people don’t realize that eating, talking, drinking, shaving, putting on makeup, reading, adjusting in-dash controls, downloading music, changing the radio station, singing, interacting with children in the backseat and using navigation features all can increase your odds of an accident. Even hands-free devices can cause distraction, because your mind is partially on the conversation you’re having.

What can you do to make sure you don’t become a distracted driver? The most important thing you can do is to take away what is most distracting to you while you’re on the road. Tempted to reach for your phone to see who texted you? Do you find it difficult to not answer your phone while driving? Consider turning off your cell phone before you set out so that you don’t hear texts or calls coming through. Love to listen to music in the car? Adjust the radio or put in your CD before you shift into drive.

Make sure you keep your eyes and mind focused on what is around you on the road and keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. And don’t be shy. If you are passenger and notice the driver is distracted, let them know that you aren’t comfortable with the way they are driving. The life you save may just be your own.