The holidays are just around the corner, and many Floridians are looking forward to getting into the holiday spirit with colorful decorations and fun family activities. However, the holidays also carry an increased risk of many kinds of injuries.
On their own, holiday decorations are responsible for about 15,000 injuries annually. You probably know to avoid doing things like standing on chairs or desks to hang decorations, because this could lead to a slip and fall injury.
What you might not know, though, is that 5,000 of those holiday decoration injuries are due to electric shock. Light-up decorations may be damaged in storage, and many DIY holiday displays are a tangled mess of extension cords.
Below, we provide a guide on how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday season, discuss common types of electrical accidents and injuries and how to prevent them, and what to do in the event of an electrical accident or injury.
Florida Electrical Accidents and Injuries: What to Watch for This Season
Electrical and Christmas Tree Fires. Electrical fires caused by faulty wiring in holiday decorations are common, and electrical fires are the fourth leading cause of house fires in the US. Christmas tree fires, which are common when non-LED lights are used on natural trees, are substantially more injurious than other fires. These fires result in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities when compared to other housefires during the winter holiday season.
Electric Shock Injuries. About 5,000 people are treated annually for electric shock related to holiday decorations. Electric shock can lead to cardiac arrest, thermal burns, and muscle, nerve, and tissue damage. These injuries can be caused by frayed wires in decorations or extension cords, the use of electrical lights on metallic Christmas trees, and improper safety practices.
How to Prevent Electrical Accidents and Injuries This Holiday Season in Florida
Fortunately, electrical fires and injuries are largely preventable by taking appropriate safety precautions and making sure decorations, extension cords, and other electrical equipment is in good working order.
The following tips can help prevent electrical mishaps:
- Check electric decorations, light strands, and extension cords for frayed wires, broken sockets, and loose connections. If decorations or extension cords are damaged, discard them. Never used damaged electric decorations.
- Do not use metallic fixtures, for example staples, tacks, or nails, to hang electric decorations.
- Do not connect any more than three strands of lights to an extension cord.
- Never plug a power strip into another power strip, which could overload the electrical socket.
- Use LED lights, which require less electricity and give off less heat, so are less likely to cause a fire.
- Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.
- Only hang electric decorations in dry areas, and do not touch wiring if you are wet or standing in water.
What Floridians Should Do If an Electrical Accident Occurs
In the event of an electrical accident or injury, remain as calm as possible so that you can react appropriately and avoid further injury or damage.
Call 911 immediately for even a small electrical fire. Attempting to put it out yourself with water will only make the fire worse, and it could lead to severe burns or electrocution.
If you have a fire extinguisher specifically for electrical fires, you may use it to extinguish a small fire. However, do not attempt to use another kind of fire extinguisher, which may also make the fire worse.
If someone incurs an electric shock injury, check for injuries and symptoms such as cardiac arrest, burns, loss of consciousness, and difficulty breathing. Before touching an electric shock victim, be sure to unplug all electrical wiring and turn off anything that may cause electric shock – the human body conducts electricity, so you could also be shocked.
The holidays are a very special time of year, but they are also associated with increased risk of injuries. Taking the appropriate safety precautions can ensure your family enjoys a safe and happy holiday season. Happy Holidays!
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.