It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But did you know that the risk of fire and accidents also goes up exponentially during the holidays? Holiday decorations and lights, candles, distracted driving and cooking all contribute to the increase in the number of accidents and fires.
Some basic precautions can ensure that you and your family and friends remain safe and injury-free throughout this holiday season:
- Make smart decisions when you’re on the road. Last year, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 273 deaths on Christmas Day, and 355 deaths on New Year’s Day. The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers, 12 percent higher than the rest of December. Choosing a designated driver is a great way to celebrate with family and friends. Drivers should also adhere to hands-free cellphone laws to limit distractions. One great feature about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is that it has Apple CarPlay & Android Auto so you can connect your maps and listen to music, and use them hands free, with voice commands. Also, always buckle up, no matter how long or short your drive is.
- Be extra careful putting up decorations. It’s often really fun to decorate for the season but it’s also important to remember that many decorations can cause fire and injury if not used properly or carefully. Emergency rooms report thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating. Falls are the leading cause of holiday injuries, followed by cuts and lacerations. When hanging lights or reaching for the top of the tree, don’t stand on chairs and furniture. Make sure breakable tree ornaments or those with metal hooks are higher up so you can keep children and pets safe.
- Be mindful of those around you when cutting down an hauling your tree and make sure you properly secure the tree before you drive home. This is a big one. Make sure all children are several feet away and cut your tree low to the ground and straight across. Have a buddy pull the tree slightly away from the side you’re cutting to prevent it from falling on you or a loved one. Tie the tree down tight: In the 2019 Chevy Silverado, which has plenty of room for a tree (63 cubic feet of volume), there are 12 fixed tie downs and 9 movable tie points stationed throughout the bed of the truck to help you secure the tree from moving around while you drive. Having more tie downs will ensure that your tree will be secure. The safest way to transport your tree is with the tailgate up and if you forget to close it after you get in the cab, the Silverado has a button you can push to close it. The Silverado’s Surround Vision is helful especially when your rear view might be obstructed by objects like trees. Drive carefully.
- Be mindful of fire risks during the holidays. The National Fire Protection Association says that thousands of deaths during the holidays are caused by fires, burns, and other fire-related injuries. They also say that more than 10 percent of home fires occur in December. This is attributed to an increase in fireplace and candle use and the use of seasonal decorations that are combustible. This is due to an increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with combustible seasonal decorations. Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle, keep them out of reach of children and put them on a steady surface that is far from the curtains, the tree and other flammable items. Before you string lights on your tree, inspect the strands as December is also the month when there are the most electrical fires. Turn any holiday lights off when you leave the house or when you go to bed.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Aside from making sure these two very important fire safety tools work, every home should have at least two fire extinguishers. Learn how to use it and make sure yours is accessible and unexpired. And because fires grow and spread rapidly, residents should call 911, get everyone out of the home safely, and only fight the fire if it is small and contained with minimal smoke and heat. Remember, you are never obligated or required to use a fire extinguisher and fight a fire. If you have even the slightest doubt about your control of the situation or your ability to fight the fire safely, evacuate the area and call 911.
Thank you to Jane Perkins, fire safety specialist for the Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League and captain of the Watch Hill Fire Department, for sharing her tips and advice for this post.
Stay safe this holiday season!