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Articles Posted in Holiday Decorating Disasters

The holiday season means decorations, and this year (maybe more than ever) people are decorating on a much larger scale across the country. With more people being stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, decking the halls is something that is lifting people’s spirits. You may even have been some of the many that chose to decorate early this year, which psychologists say might actually make you happier

While we encourage decorating, especially if it brings you some much needed cheer during these strange times, we want you to be safe. Every year there are thousands of injuries, fires, and even deaths reported due to holiday decorations gone awry. Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to remember to keep your safety a number one priority this holiday season, and that means decorating safely. 

decorating-christmas-tree-2999722_1920-300x200According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2013-2017 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 78 home fires that were the result of Christmas decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused a yearly average of 3 deaths, 34 injuries, and $12 million in property damage. Christmas tree fires between 2013-2017 were responsible for a yearly average of 160 home fires, 3 deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in property damage.

Some other important safety facts to remember are: 

  1. More than one-third of holiday decoration fires are caused by candles. 
  2. Two out of five holiday decor fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. 
  3. Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day are the top days for candle fires. 

Here are some tips to follow to make sure you and your loved ones can enjoy your decorations free from hazards: 

  • Use flame resistant holiday decorations 
  • Keep candles away from all decorations or anything that could burn
  • Read the instructions for your lights. Some can only be used indoors/outdoors, not both 
  • Lights that are broken or are worn or have loose connections should be replaced
  • Use lights that have the UL listing mark 
  • Use clips to hang lights to keep your cords free from damage
  • Do not decorate near windows or doors
  • Turn off all lights and decorations before you leave your house or go to bed
  • Always blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed
  • Keep your Christmas tree three feet away from any heat sources like candles, fireplaces, radiators, heat vents, or lights
  • Make sure your tree is not blocking any exits
  • Do not use lit candles to decorate you tree
  • If you have a live tree, make sure you water it 
  • Keep decorations with small parts away from where a child may be able to reach them
  • Any decoration or candles that are powered by lithium button batteries can be extremely dangerous if a child swallows them – the electric currents can react with saliva causing in severe damage to a child’s esophagus in a matter of a few hours
  • Poinsettias are not toxic if a child or pet consumes them, but 3% of children and pets could develop symptoms if eaten
  • Holly can lead to vomiting, so keep this out of a child or pet’s reach
  • Make sure batteries are stored in their packaging 
  • Space heaters should not be left unattended when in use
  • Never run cords under carpets, rugs, furniture or hanging out of windows
  • Do not overload your electric outlets

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The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with consumer products. They have compiled some pretty surprising data on holiday decorating injuries, so if you find yourself in the hospital emergency room from a holiday decorating injury this year, you will certainly not be alone.

Last Year’s Stats

According to the CPSC, during November and December 2014, there were 12 fatalities and 145,000 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms all related to some type of holiday decorating fiasco. This equates to an average of 240 injuries per day during the holiday season!

The consumer protection organization said the top reasons for injuries were falls, lacerations, back strains, and ingestion of foreign objects. The CPSC suggests following the tips below to avoid decorating disasters.

  1. Exercise extreme caution on ladders. The CPSC says that 36 percent of holiday decorating injuries are the result of falls, and half of those are falls from ladders.
  2. Check live Christmas trees for freshness. Keep them away from heat sources. Make sure to keep trees watered.
  3. The CPSC suggests buying fire resistant artificial trees. Not as fun, but much safer.
  4. Keep lit candles away from trees. Also keep candles away from wreaths, curtains and furniture.
  5. Examine Christmas light sets for damage. Discard all sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections. It is recommended to buy lights that show markings of a safety testing laboratory. Fires from holiday lights caused ten deaths last year.
  6. Keep small decorations away from children. Tiny decorations are huge choking hazards.
  7. Avoid decorating with sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Lacerations were the top-reported decorating-related injuries last year!

Consult With A Florida Injury Lawyer

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Most people consider holiday decorations a central part of celebrating the season. While decorating your home may be a festive tradition, when holiday adornments have product defects the aftermath can be anything but jolly and leave you and your loved ones with serious personal injuries.

With the holiday season officially here, it is always a good idea to check with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to check out if any of your holiday embellishments have been recalled due to product defects. The CPSC works to decrease and prevent injuries related to hazardous holiday decorations by censoring the Internet and marketplace for unsafe holiday trimmings and any other products that may potentially hurt shoppers.

According to the CPSC, more than 10,000 people make a trip to the emergency room every year for holiday decorating injuries, including burns, cuts and abrasions, electric shock and slip, trip and fall accidents. Moreover, candles are found to be responsible for an estimated 150 deaths every year, whereas Christmas trees are the culprit behind nearly 400 fires every year, causing 20 deaths, 70 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage.

Ultimately, it is essential to speak with a Florida Product Liability Lawyer at Whittel & Melton to ensure that your legal rights are protected if you or a family member has suffered injuries related to holiday ornaments or any other type of defective product. By consulting with a Product Liability Lawyer, you may be able to file a product liability claim and seek compensation for any injuries.

Determining Fault When a Defective Decoration Ends in Injury

If you have been injured from a defective decoration, a Florida Product Liability Lawyer can organize an investigation to determine who the negligent party is – the manufacturer, distributor, retailer or possibly all three. Sometimes establishing blame can be difficult. The manufacturer will most likely try and prove that the product is safe and may assert that the injured party did not use the product as it was intended. This is not usually the case and your Florida Product Liability Lawyer will be responsible in showing how a defective decoration caused your injuries. Other parties that could be responsible for defective products besides the manufacturer, distributor and retailer include the manufacturer, distributor or seller of any defective component of the decoration that added to your injuries.

Recovering Damages in a Product Liability Claim

After the negligent party has been identified in a Florida product liability claim, damages need to be determined. Damages may include loss of past and future wages, emotional distress, past and future medical bills, pain and suffering and any other expenses relevant to your injuries. It is extremely important to have an experienced attorney on your side to protect your best interests when it comes to a defective product because most of these cases involve large companies that will have aggressive attorneys working on their side that will try to get you to accept low settlements. At Whittel & Melton, LLC, we can guide you through the process of a product liability claim and make sure you recover the compensation you rightfully deserve. We can provide you with a complimentary consultation any time, day or night. Contact the Florida Product Liability Lawyers at Whittel & Melton, LLC today.

What Makes Holiday Decorations Dangerous?

There have been several holiday decoration recalls from previous years and the following examples can give you an idea how holiday décor can be disastrous.

• Candles and candle holders that pose a fire hazard.

• Christmas lights that pose a fire hazard due to a nonexistent fuse.

• Candles with the wrong wick size that caused flames to burn irregularly.

• Christmas lights with exposed wires that pose a risk for a fire or electrocution hazard.

• Christmas lights with undersized wires that have the potential to cause a fire or electric shock.

The Florida Product Liability Lawyers want you and your family to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season this year. Follow these safety tips when decorating the inside and outside of your home and remember, always use your best judgment.

Light Safety:

1. Make sure all lights have fused plugs that meet safety standards.

2. Make sure outdoor lights are sanctioned to be used outdoors.

3. Check all sets of lights (indoor and outdoor) for cracked bulbs, exposed or frayed wires and damages sockets.

4. Turn off lights when not at home or asleep.

5. Installing timers for your lights can not only save energy, but can prevent a deadly fire.

6. The CPSC recommends using only three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord.

Tree Safety:

1. If using an artificial tree, make sure it is fire resistant.

2. Trees should be kept away from fireplaces and other sources of heat as well as doorways.

Decorating Safety Tips:

1. Always use flame-resistant decorations. Those made of plastic or nonleaded metals are highly encouraged.

2. Place candles somewhere out of a child’s reach.

3. Never place candles near the tree or any other holiday decorations.

4. Make sure sharp or fragile holiday décor is placed where a child cannot easily grab it.

Ladder Safety Tips:

1. Make sure a ladder is placed on a dry and sturdy surface before climbing.

2. Do not lean too far on either side of the ladder.

3. Always have someone hold the ladder for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a three year period, almost 18,000 people were taken to the ER due to falls from holiday decorating. Make sure to make safety your number one concern when participating in any kind of holiday decorating!

The Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to keeping you and your family safe for the holiday season. We always advise following simple safety precautions and urge you to install working smoke alarms in your home in case an emergency happens to erupt.

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