The winter holidays are officially upon us, giving millions of Californians plenty of reasons to celebrate. But as countless people have learned the hard way, there is a fine line between happiness and heartache during this time. 

At hospitals such as the Regional Medical Center of San Jose, Emergency Room doctors on call in December and January often treat children, teens and adults for serious injuries including but not limited to: 

•    Burns
•    Fractures
•    Head injuries

While the injuries fall into the same general categories, the causes vary. For example, accidental contact with candles or exposure to electricity can cause mild to severe burns. Holiday house fires are also a leading cause of potentially lethal wounds. 

In fact, house fires sparked by holiday decorations and Christmas trees can be extremely destructive and pose the greatest risks for occupants, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).  Specifically, the ESI says these blazes “result in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities per fire as the average winter holiday home fire.”

Broken bones, head trauma, cuts, bruises, sprains and other soft tissue injuries sustained during the winter holidays often result from falls. People are sometimes hurt in falls after they’ve tripped over extension cords or while they are hanging decorations.  As one doctor from a Southern California hospital told CNN, falls are by far “the most common reason why we'll see folks this time of year." 

Although it’s hard to believe, thousands of people get hurt while opening or using holiday gifts. In their excitement, recipients often use sharp instruments, such as scissors, knives, razors or box cutters to open their presents and cut themselves in the process. 

And while toys with small pieces are potential choking hazards for young children, older kids and adults can find themselves in harm’s way for different reasons. Specifically, rushing to use some items without reading the instructions or taking proper safety precautions can result in accidents and injuries. Defective devices can also cause injuries. 

Luckily, most holiday mishaps are easily preventable. Being careful and using some common sense are the best ways to avoid painful experiences during this time of the year. There are also specific things you can do to reduce the risk of getting hurt. The ESI recommends: 

•    Limiting the amount of holiday decorations
•    Extinguishing holiday lights before you go to bed or leave the house
•    Placing decorations a safe distance away from any source of heat 
•    Discarding old or damaged decorations such as holiday lights
•    Being careful about the placement of extension cords

While following these tips will improve the chances of having a safe and happy holiday season, no one’s safety is guaranteed. If you or a loved one is injured while celebrating the holidays in Santa Monica, it is crucial that you consult a personal injury lawyer at Steinberg Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today. 

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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