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The holidays are a favorite time of the year for many people. While filled with festive celebrations and cozy gatherings with family and friends, the season is not without certain hazards. Crowded stores, heavy traffic, and household accidents all increase the risk of personal injuries. Being aware of the potential dangers and taking a few extra precautions can help to keep you and your loved ones safe. 

Holiday Shopping: Safety in Stores and When Dealing With Crowds

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, stores throughout Fort Myers will be flooded with holiday shoppers. It is a good time of year to take advantage of sales between holiday gift buying, but the extra crowds and the demands on employees make certain types of hazards more likely. These include: 

  • Slip and fall accidents: Slips and falls are a leading cause of personal injuries and are common in grocery stores, shopping malls, and other establishments. Wet, slippery floors, cluttered aisles, and worn walkways all make these accidents more likely to occur. 
  • Getting struck by or against objects: In the rush to put up holiday decorations and to squeeze in extra merchandise, items are not always securely attached or stocked the way they should be. When walking through elaborate displays or reaching for items at heights, be aware of the potential for falling objects. Pay close attention in big box stores as well, where motorized lifts carrying heavy pallets can put you at risk. 
  • Parking lot accidents: One of the biggest dangers shoppers face over the holiday season is an increased risk for parking lot accidents. According to the National Safety Council, tens of thousands of these accidents happen each year and are common over the holidays. Pay close attention when pulling into or out of spaces and when walking to your car.  

Reduce Your Fire Risks   

Home fires are another common safety risk over the holidays. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the most likely culprits include: 

  • Holiday decorations: Twinkling lights add to the festive feel of the holidays, but beware not to leave wiring exposed or to overload outlets. The NFPS reports that nearly 800 home fires each year start this way. 
  • Christmas trees: If you put up a Christmas tree, whether it is real or artificial, make sure you follow proper safety precautions. Avoid putting it near fireplaces or other heated surfaces and make sure the lights you use on it are in good condition. 
  • Fireplaces, firepits, and candles: Speaking of fireplaces, indoor and outdoor varieties create a cozy environment. Just make sure they are clean and properly ventilated prior to using and never leave them unattended. The same is true with candles. Use them only on stable surfaces, monitor closely if children are nearby, and make sure they are out before going to bed.  
  • Cooking fires: Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, cooking fires are one of the biggest dangers in the home. Remain in the kitchen while the stove or oven is in operation and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. 

Holiday Driving Safety

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), close to 60 million people end up taking road trips over the holidays each year. Whether you are driving across the country or simply across town, follow these tips to protect yourself and your passengers: 

  • Get your vehicle serviced regularly to prevent mechanical breakdowns. 
  • Realize traffic will be heavier and allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. 
  • Avoid speeding and follow all other traffic rules. 
  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, improper passing, and failing to yield to other motorists or pedestrians. 
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times and require that all passengers in your vehicle do as well. 
  • Avoid distractions and keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on the task of driving at all times.  
  • Avoid driving when excessively tired or fatigued, which mimics the effects of alcohol on your system. 

It goes without saying that you should never get behind the wheel if you are under the influence. Over the holidays, make alternate arrangements to get home, such as taking a cab or Uber, if you know you will be drinking alcohol. Be aware the prescription drugs or even over the counter medications can impact your driving abilities as well, making car accidents more likely to occur. 

What to do When Holiday Accidents and Injuries Happen

Unfortunately, holiday accidents can happen despite taking all the recommended precautions. When they do, you can suffer serious injuries that require ongoing medical care while leaving you unable to work or provide for yourself and your family. To protect yourself and your rights to compensation, follow these steps: 

  • Report the accident immediately to the property owner, store security, or the police and make sure that an accident report is filed; 
  • Get the names and addresses for everyone involved, as well as their insurance information;
  • Make note of exactly where the accident happened and any witnesses at the scene; 
  • Get medical care for your injuries, even if you have no major symptoms;
  • Follow all of your doctor’s instructions regarding follow up care and activity restrictions. 

When you suffer injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation. In any of the above cases, your expenses may be covered through an automobile, property, or homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these companies to either deny or dispute your claim. 

As experienced Fort Myers personal injury attorneys, the Bernardo Law Firm can negotiate with insurers on your behalf. If insurance is not in place or a settlement cannot be reached, we can advise you on your rights in filing a personal injury lawsuit. 

Schedule a Consultation With Our Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney
The Bernardo Law Firm wishes you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season. When accidents and injuries do occur, we help you get the compensation you need to recover. Call or contact our Fort Myers personal injury attorney today to request a consultation.