It’s almost Thanksgiving, and that means family and friends coming together to enjoy food and one another’s company. It is also the leading day for U.S. home cooking fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s latest “Home Fire Involving Cooking Equipment” report, nearly four times as many home cooking fires occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 2015 as on any other typical day of the year. The day before Thanksgiving represents the second-leading day for home cooking fires.

Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment, which resulted in 510 fire-related deaths, 5,470 fire-related injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unattended cooking is, by far, the top contributing factor in home cooking fires and fire-related fatalities.

Between 2011 and 2015, cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fire incidents. Cooking fires caused 20 percent of home fire deaths, and accounted for 45 percent of the reported home fire injuries.

It is very easy to get distracted at Thanksgiving due to the fact that most people are cooking multiple dishes and trying to entertain guests. You may easily be prompted to walk away from the kitchen or forget something is cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. However, just one simple mistake can increase the likelihood of a cooking fire.

Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the risk of cooking fires on Thanksgiving and beyond. The following are NFPA tips and recommendations for cooking safely:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the food, especially when frying with oil.
  • Use a timer to keep track of cooking times. Check the stove or oven frequently. Consider putting timers in different rooms so that you can hear them over music, football games, and party chatter.
  • Stay alert and focused when cooking. To help minimize the risk of injury, avoid cooking when drinking alcohol or if you’re tired.
  • Keep things that can easily catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area.
  • Kids should stay 3 feet away from stovetops, as well as from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, or gravy could cause serious burns.
  • Frying turkeys at Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular. However, NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers, as they can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property due to the extensive amount of hot oil used with fryers. If you prefer fried turkey, check out your local grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants that sell deep fried turkeys.

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Halloween is tomorrow and our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want everyone to remember to make safety a part of your celebration at home, at a party, or while trick or treating. Please keep the following safety tips in mind for happy Halloween memories:

Trick or Treating Safety

  • Children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult while trick or treating. With older children, curfews should be established. Encourage teens to stay with a group and make sure you know what route they plan to use.
  • You can reduce the risk of a pedestrian accident by using flashlights and glow sticks when trick or treating. These will allow motorists to see your trick or treater on the street. We also encourage you to dress your children in costumes with reflective material, lighter colors, and free from excessive material, which could prompt a slip and fall accident. Proper footwear is essential in preventing falls, too. Avoid wearing masks that are too large, which can obstruct your child’s vision.
  • Always have your cellphone on you in case of an emergency!
  • Stay in well-lit areas on familiar streets, and pass on going to dark homes. Make sure your kids know to never enter homes or cars to retrieve candy.
  • Always inspect candy for choking hazards and potential tampering before eating.

Safe Driving On Halloween

  • As a driver, be especially cautious in residential neighborhoods where trick or treaters may travel. Drive slowly and be vigilant in watching out for children in costume and other pedestrians.
  • If you are reversing from a home or street, please look for anyone behind you before doing so.
  • Distracted driving and speeding should be avoided during heavy trick or treating hours, and really any time when you are behind the wheel.
  • Turn on headlights, even during daylight hours just to be extra cautious.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident, a slip and fall accident or any other type of accident due to another’s negligence, we can help. Call us for a free consultation at 866-608-5529 or contact us online. We can begin helping you with your potential case right away, so do not delay.

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A motorcyclist was killed Sunday in a hit-and-run crash in Daytona Beach, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash happened at the intersection of 13th Street and San Jose Boulevard at about 5:10 p.m.

Troopers said the crash involved a motorcycle and a pickup truck.  

The motorcyclist died at Halifax Medical Center.

The driver of the pickup fled on foot, according to reports. Witnesses saw the driver of the pickup get into a white passenger car that fled the scene, according to police.

Other motorcyclists have died in crashes in Central Florida since Friday.

Two motorcyclists were killed in a crash near International Speedway Boulevard in Volusia County on Friday.

A fatal motorcycle crash in Volusia County was reported on Saturday.

Thousands of motorcyclists were in Daytona Beach Oct. 21-22 for Biketoberfest.

Drivers who cause motorcycle collisions may experience a moment of panic immediately after when they decide to stay or flee the scene. Those who choose to leave the scene of the crash are are in fact breaking the law and committing a serious crime. In such cases, it is the victim and their family who are burdened with all the expenses of the aftermath of the crash, including costs of hospitalization, rehabilitation and even funeral expenses, lost wages and more. Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help those injured and families of those killed in hit-and-run accidents better understand their legal rights.

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A Broward County woman is suing Hyatt, alleging negligence led to her suffering injuries in the shower.

The woman filed a complaint Sept. 28 in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Florida Orange County against Hyatt Corporation alleging they failed to use ordinary care to maintain their premises in a safe condition.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 22, 2015, the woman sustained serious injuries on the side of her neck when the shower head in a Hyatt Regency of Orlando bathroom suddenly dislodged and struck her. The suit says this caused her to violently twist her body and fall full force onto her right arm, neck and shoulder area.

As a result, she says she suffered bodily injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of earnings.

Sometimes something as simple as bathing can be a hazardous activity. Injuries from falls in the bathroom, particularly when getting in and out of a shower or tub, are common occurrences.

Bathroom falls typically mean violent contact with hard surfaces, which may result in traumatic brain injuries, back, hip or spinal injuries, neck fractures, or broken bones. If you suffered a serious injury from a hotel bathroom fall, you may still be dealing with the after effects.

If the hotel where you fell did not provide reasonable accommodations to protect you from an accident, you may be able to file an injury claim against the hotel for failing to provide a reasonably safe environment. Our South Florida Slip, Trip & Fall Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you pursue potential compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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Florida lawmakers are discussing a potential law that would make helmets mandatory for motorcycle riders under 21.

Sen. Keith Perry’s (R-Gainesville) bill would change the helmet exemption from 16 to 21. Under the change, drivers over 21 must have an insurance policy for at least $10,000 to ride without a helmet.

Any motorcyclist under 21 not wearing a helmet would be charged with a traffic infraction.

According to AAA, motorcycle accident deaths in Florida are up 30 percent since 2014, with 606 motorcyclists losing their lives in 2015 alone.

Lawmakers have tried and failed to bring back the mandatory helmet law the legislature repealed in 2000.

The new bill would require that motorcyclists and moped drivers under the age of 21 wear helmets.

Still, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration finds it’s not young people but motorcyclists 40 and over who are more likely to die in accidents: that age group comprised 54 percent of motorcycle fatalities in 2015.

One of every five motorcycle crashes reported results in head or neck injuries. Head injuries are are far more common in motorcycle crashes. Research shows that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of neck or head injury. Most crashes on a motorcycle happen on shorter trips and even with low-speed crashes, there can be a fatality. For most riders who are travelling at around 30 miles an hour when they get get involved in a crash, helmets can cut both the number and the severity of injuries by half. Regardless of what speed a motorcyclist is travelling at, not wearing a helmet places you at an increased risk of suffering from a head injury or wrongful death than riders who are wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

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A 2-year-old boy drowned Saturday afternoon after he wandered into the pool at his Westside home, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The boy’s father and stepmother were with him at the home.

The boy’s father went to check on the boy Saturday afternoon, thinking the toddler was asleep in his room. When he wasn’t there, the father looked for him and found the boy in the backyard pool, quickly pulling him out and beginning CPR.

When firefighters arrived, they continued CPR and took the boy to Orange Park Medical Center, where he died.

Police said the in-ground pool was gated and there were several obstacles to the child getting to the pool, but they were ones the toddler could get through, like a screen door.

There have been 43 reported drownings over the last six years reported to the Department of Children and Families since 2012 in Jacksonville.

Police are investigating the incident, but no foul play is suspected. The Department of Children and Families will be notified.

There are approximately 3,300 drowning deaths per year, according to a report by the CDC. That means there are an alarming 10 deaths per day nationwide. One in five of these drowning deaths involve a child. Tragically, almost all drowning deaths in swimming pools are the result of negligence and are entirely preventable.

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The Volusia County Sheriff was injured in a crash while riding a bicycle Friday morning.

Authorities said his bike was hit by a pickup truck in the 4900 block of South Peninsula Drive. It happened just before 9 a.m.

The driver of the truck, who remained at the scene, was found at fault and received a traffic citation, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

He suffered a broken left hand, a possible ACL tear in his right knee and two fractured vertebrae. He also received sutures in his left knee.

The 54-year-old was elected sheriff in November 2016 and sworn in on Jan. 3. He formerly served as police chief in Daytona Beach.

Volusia County is a populated region, and a lot is happening here all the time. Bicycle accidents are pretty common here, sadly. The most common reasons bike accidents occur are due to the following:

  • Negligence of the drivers on the road.
  • Drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Drivers failed to stop at stop signs.

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A woman is suing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. for alleged negligence.

The woman filed a complaint on Aug. 3 in the Orange County Circuit Court, alleging that the Disney failed to follow applicable safety guidelines and regulations.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that she was a guest at the amusement park on May 3, 2016 when she fell due to a broken and defective sidewalk. The woman claims that she suffered disability, mental anguish and incurred medical expenses as a result of the fall.

She holds Disney responsible for allegedly failing to properly inspect the property, maintain its sidewalk and warn guests of the dangerous conditions.

Property owners have an obligation to keep their properties safe from unreasonably dangerous conditions such as defective sidewalks, uneven steps, and even spills on the floor. However, all too often people are injured on another person’s property because of an unsafe condition that the owner knew about and failed to repair.

Our Florida Premises Liability Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have been injured on another person’s property. We will investigate your injury to help determine the cause, and help you pursue compensation for your injuries.

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A Stuart couple was hospitalized this week after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator in their home, according to the Martin County Health Department.

The couple was brought to a hospital Tuesday after complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain. They remain in the hospital, the health department said.

At least four families in Palm Beach County suffered carbon monoxide poisoning this week after keeping running generators in closed garages, according to health officials.

As of Thursday afternoon, 16,740 customers in Martin County were still without power because of Hurricane Irma, according to the Florida Power & Light website.

In Palm Beach County, 156,150 customers were still without power.

Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton strongly urge you to read through the operating manual before you operate a generator so that you fully understand how the machine works. You can avoid injury by always following the manufacturer’s guidelines and keeping the following safety tips in mind:

  • Never use a generator in an enclosed space. Carbon dioxide produced by the engine can build up, causing potentially fatal fumes.
  • When using a generator, keep it outdoors and at least 5 feet away from windows, vents, and doors.
  • Always use a battery-operated carbon-dioxide detector when you are running a generator. Make sure the batteries are new.
  • Before refueling the generator, allow it to cool for a minimum of two minutes, since gasoline vapors are extremely flammable. Use fresh gasoline, or stabilize gas with a fuel stabilizer if you do not use the generator for 30 days.
  • Make sure that you follow the maintenance schedule that is recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is rated for generator use and that it is grounded.
  • Power generators should never be plugged into a home outlet.

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A restaurant customer is suing Taco Bell of America LLC for alleged negligence.

The man filed a complaint on July 21 in the Orange County Circuit Court, alleging that Taco Bell failed to provide a safe environment for its patrons.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he was walking towards the exit of the restaurant on Sept. 2, 2016 when he slipped and fell on a puddle of water on the floor. He allegedly suffered bodily injury, pain and suffering, the aggravation of a pre-existing condition, disfigurement, disability, mental anguish and medical expenses.

The man holds Taco Bell responsible for allegedly failing to warn him of the dangerous condition, and for allegedly failing to train its employees to properly maintain and inspect the obstructed walkway.

Restaurants, including fast food chains, owe a duty of care to people who visit their properties. Customers have the right to expect a store owner and manager to maintain safe conditions in these establishments.

Restaurants have responsibilities to their customers. If you suffered food poisoning, slipped and fell in a restroom, or otherwise suffered injury in a Florida restaurant or on the premises, we encourage you to speak with our Florida Negligence & Premises Liability Lawyers at Whittel & Melton today. You may be entitled to compensation from the owner of a restaurant to cover your damages, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

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