Thanksgiving is all about gathering and good eats. Lots of folks are especially excited about this year’s festivities, as pandemic-related restrictions have increasingly eased. However, many holiday safety concerns persist year after year.
As longtime South Florida injury lawyers, the cases we handle almost all involve preventable injuries resulting from the failure of someone else to use reasonable care – not necessarily because they meant to cause harm, but simply because they weren’t careful. If at all possible, we want people to avoid associating joyful holidays like Thanksgiving with sadness or regret. That’s why we urge everyone to take a few minutes to ensure they’re being as safe as possible – behind the wheel, in front of the stove, through the stores, and at the table.
Driving Dangers on Thanksgiving
AAA is anticipating a return to pre-pandemic travel levels this holiday, with an estimated 54 million people traveling by motor vehicle. That’s a 13 percent hike since last year. Three cities in Florida – Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando – are listed in the Top 10 destinations for Thanksgiving weekend travel this year.
On top of just general crowding on South Florida roads, we’re also anticipating a major uptick in impaired driving. Although Thanksgiving isn’t usually considered a “party” holiday, traffic safety officials have long recognized the four-day break as one of the booziest times of the year. Each year, there’s a notable uptick in alcohol-impaired driving and marijuana-impaired driving. People are free of their work obligations, folks are eager to be “home” socializing with friends and family, and it’s often the first break college kids have to meet up with their high school buddies, often at local bars. The National Safety Council has estimated more than 47,500 people may be seriously injured and another 515 will die during the Thanksgiving holiday as a result of drunk driving.
It’s our hope that motorists this holiday will keep in mind that if you feel different, your driving is impacted, and that buzzed driving is impaired driving. Keep yourself, your family members, and others on the road safe by driving defensively, soberly, without distraction, and with adequate time and rest to get where you’re going.
Hazards in the Kitchen
The kitchen is where the Thanksgiving magic happens. But the dinner can quickly turn disastrous – and dangerous – if important safety protocol isn’t followed.
These kitchen safety tips are straight from the U.S. Fire Administration (which estimates 4,300 house fires started on Thanksgiving annually, accounting for 15 deaths and nearly $30 million in property damage):
- Stand by your pan. Cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries – especially on Thanksgiving. Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking (particularly on the stovetop) so you can keep an eye on the food. Check on your food frequently, and make sure kids and pets are out of the kitchen. Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby; if something on the stove catches fire, you can quickly smother it.
- Keep kids well out of reach of hot foods, liquids, knives, and flammable objects like utility lighters, candles, and matches. Never leave a child alone with a lit candle.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. You can test them by pushing the test button.
- If you’re frying a turkey, only do so outside and well away from trees, your house, and other structures. Make sure the turkey is fully thawed before frying. Check the temperature often with a thermometer so the oil doesn’t overheat. Use long cooking gloves to protect your hands and arms.
- Avoid electrical fires by not overburdening your outlets while you’re cooking.
- Learn the Heimlich maneuver so that you can respond quickly and effectively if someone starts choking at the table.
Some Thanksgiving Day fires are caused by faulty or defective products. If you believe you were injured because of a dangerous or defective product or appliance, consult with an experienced injury law firm.
Hazards in the Stores
Black Friday is historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It was significantly subdued this past year due to the pandemic, but even before that, the rise in e-commerce has seen a shift in how people shop. That said, if you are planning to head out for bargain hunting, a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Note where security guards and exits are located, in case you need either quickly. Avoid parking lots and shopping centers that are poorly lit.
- Be cautious and aware in parking lots, as far too many drivers neglect to watch for pedestrians (and children are difficult to see from the driver’s seat, particularly when backing out).
- Watch for spills, tripping hazards, and unstable boxes or items stacked high up.
It’s our sincere hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, injury-free and surrounded by those you love most. If the unexpected does occur, we’re here to help you navigate the process of obtaining fair compensation.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Holiday Traffic Fatality Estimate, 2021, NSC
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Palm Beach Car Accident Survivors Should Understand the Florida Impact Rule, Aug. 5, 2021, Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Blog