It is generally agreed that the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. With holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve being celebrated in December the average American’s social engagements take a dramatic jump. An increase in accidents often accompanies this increase in festivities. However, with the correct preparation, party-goers and party hosts can keep themselves and their loved ones safe all holiday season long.
Prevent Holiday Drunk Driving
Both revelers and their hosts must have a plan in place to prevent drunk driving during the holidays. A host may offer to match attendees up with sober drivers or suggest a ride-sharing service. Attendees that would like to drink alcohol while celebrating should have a plan in place before departing for festivities and stick to that plan whether it is riding with a designated driver or using a car service. If an individual chooses to be a designated driver, they should remain true to their word and not ingest alcohol or other substances that could impair their driving. During the party, hosts may also take car keys from any guests they feel are impaired so that they do not drive home drunk.
In today’s uber-connected environment, a ride-sharing service may be summoned at the touch of a button. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become ubiquitous in daily life. However, there are a few tips every ridesharer should know before getting into another individual’s car.
- Request a ride before stepping outside of a party. It is safer to await a driver inside a building than outside while alone.
- Wait for a driver in a safe and well-lit area. Most ridesharing services allow the person five minutes to get to the vehicle once the driver has arrived at the agreed-upon location. A rider should wait in a safe location and then walk to the car if the location does not appear to be the safest. An individual may also recruit another individual to wait with them to ensure they get safely in the ride-sharing vehicle.
- Ask the driver to confirm your name and your drop-off location. Getting into the wrong car with a fraudulent driver is dangerous and can have devastating consequences.
- Verify the identity of the driver and car before entering. Ride-sharing apps allow users to access a driver’s information, type of vehicle, and license plate. An individual should confirm that the driver and vehicle are the same as what is shown on the app.
- Share your ride-sharing activity with friends and family. Ridesharing apps have trip-sharing features that provide live updates to family and friends. If the driver veers off course, the person you share your ride information with will be able to track your location.
- Follow the route on the app. A passenger should follow the route highlighted on the app to ensure that the driver is following the exact route provided by the app while remaining aware of their surroundings.
- Make sure the driver is following all road rules. If a driver is speeding, not following the rules of the road, or is otherwise making the passenger uncomfortable, the passenger should speak up and let the driver know.
- Do not share personal information. All of the information the driver needs to get the passenger to their destination is on the app. The passenger should never share personal information such as a phone number, address, or social media handles.
- In the event of an accident, passengers should check to see if anyone is hurt, then immediately call emergency services. The ride-sharing service should also be notified of the accident once emergency services have been dispatched.
Individuals often associate elaborate spreads of food with the holidays. What is often overlooked is how these large meals can cause food poisoning and food-borne illnesses. With a few precautions, both cooks and guests can remain safe during the holidays.
- Keep meats separate. Animal products such as beef, chicken, and eggs should be kept separately to prevent cross-contamination. To prevent meat juices from leaking onto other foods, meat, chicken, turkey, and seafood should be kept in separate containers or sealed plastic bags.
- Make sure foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature. When food is cooked thoroughly and at the appropriate temperature potential pathogens die. Using a food thermometer, a cook can ensure that no germs or bacteria are being presented to their guests. For a list of safe internal temperatures, visit foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts.
- Do not leave cooked food out for more than two hours. When foods are exposed to temperatures between 40°F and 140°F bacteria can grow. Perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours or after one hour if they have been exposed to temperatures over ninety degrees. Additionally, the refrigerator should be set to under forty degrees, while the freezer should be set to below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
- Refrain from eating raw dough or batter. Dough and batter made using eggs or flour may contain harmful bacteria such as e.coli and salmonella. Individuals should never taste or eat raw dough or batter unless it is explicitly stated on the label that it may be eaten without cooking.
Prevent Holiday Home Fires
Nearly 47,000 fires occur during the winter holidays claiming more than five hundred lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Below are a few ways to prevent holiday home fires.
- Never leave cooking appliances unattended while in use. The person or persons responsible for cooking the holiday meal should remain in the kitchen until all appliances have been safely turned off and all electrical cords stored. If a cook must leave the kitchen, they should designate another individual to look after the kitchen appliances and any food that is still cooking.
- Check all holiday lights and electrical decorations. If an electrical cord is frayed, it should not be used. Additionally, power outlets should never be overcrowded with plugs.
- Keep Christmas trees, plants, and plant materials away from any heat source such as fireplaces, heaters, and candles. Large trees like natural Christmas trees should always be sufficiently watered. Dry plant materials may work as a starter for any roving spark or ember, which could result in a house fire.
- Holiday lights should be unplugged before bed and when leaving a home. Lit candles should never be left unattended.
- Always ensure smoke detectors are in proper working order.
Stay Safe This Holiday Season
Panter, Panter & Sampedro hope you keep these recommendations in mind as you enjoy a safe holiday season together with your loved ones. However, if the unexpected does occur, our experienced personal injury attorneys can work with you one-on-one to help you get the justice, recovery, and compensation you deserve. Call us at (305) 662-6178 to speak to a dedicated attorney.