Tips for a Hazard-Free Holiday Season

Trimming the tree and stringing up the lights is a longstanding tradition during the holiday season. Unfortunately, decking the halls can put you and your loved ones in danger. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates 230 home fires involve Christmas trees and another 150 involve holiday lights every year in America, resulting in 15 deaths.

Beyond fires, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says there were 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating during November and December 2012. “There are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season. Adding safety to your checklist can keep a holiday tradition from becoming a holiday tragedy,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. The CPSC offers these tips on safely decorating your home.

Decorating Tips for the Home…

  • Prevent ladder injuries – In 2012, 34 percent of the holiday decorating incidents involved falls. Read Ladder Safety 101 for tips.
  • Choose a tree wisely – Always check the freshness of a live Christmas tree. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and the needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles. This video shows the flammability of a dry Christmas tree versus a tree that has been watered regularly. If you’re buying an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.”
  • Keep an eye on candles – Candles should always be displayed on a stable, heat-resistant surface and extinguished before you leave the room or the house and before going to bed. Two out of every five home decorating fires are started by candles.
  • Check the lights – Use lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Examine new and old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Plug one cord in at a time and throw away any cords with exposed wires.
  • Maintain a safe distance – Decorations should be placed at least three feet away from the fireplace. And think twice before tossing discarded wrapping paper into the fire: Wrappings can ignite suddenly and create a flash fire.

Know When Enough Is Enough for Holiday Guests

One too many toasts can prove deadly during the holiday if partygoers choose to drink and drive. During the past decade, alcohol was a factor in 37 percent of deadly crashes around the Christmas holidays, 41 percent over New Year’s. That compares to 31 percent over the rest of the year. During the 2012 holiday season alone, 830 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes.

Tips for the responsible social host …

  • Stay in control – If you choose to serve alcohol at your party, stay within your own limits to set a good example for guests.
  • Choose a reliable bartender – Don’t let underage guests drink alcohol. You can be held liable if an intoxicated minor leaves your party and is injured or injures someone else. Consider closing the bar 90 minutes early and offering non-alcoholic beverages like tea or coffee along with dessert.
  • Watch your guests – Arrange rides for any guests who appear to be intoxicated. If they insist on leaving, take their keys, ask a sober guest for help or drive them home yourself. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a Safe Party Guide with more information.
  • Test your smoke alarms – Keep fresh batteries in all smoke alarms and ask guests to smoke outside. One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.
  • Be careful when cooking – Do not leave a pot unattended on the stove and remain in the kitchen while cooking.


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Courageous Americans Turn Grief into Action

Many of you know too well the life-changing consequences of a devastating injury. Far too often, tragedy might have been prevented if not for the carelessness or negligence of others. Those haunting “what ifs” only compound the grief for family, friends and the community.

This month we bring you the stories of four families that turned their grief and “what ifs” into action:

  • Vicki Seliger Swenson , a sister who helped change state law to protect women after her sister was brutally murdered.
  • Eric Rice, a father fighting laws that penalize people hurt or killed by medical mistakes after his daughter died from a botched diagnosis.
  • Daphne Izer, a mother who started Parents Against Tired Truckers after her son and three friends were killed by a semi-driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • Ken and Beth Melton, parents who single-handedly uncovered GM’s attempt to hide problems with a faulty ignition switch after their daughter died in a car crash.

Read more in the August 2014 edition of You Should Know.

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Minnesota Car and Motorcycle Accidents

A driver’s negligence can cost injured victims their livelihood and profoundly interfere with their way of life. At Finn Shapiro, LLC, we work with injured people and their families to help them secure the compensation they need in order to move on with their lives.

If you’ve been injured while driving or riding in a car, the attorneys at Finn Shapiro, LLC will handle all communication with the insurance company for any at-fault driver or vehicle owner. If a lawsuit is necessary, we will guide you and your family through the process and fight aggressively on your behalf until a fair settlement or verdict can be achieved. Meanwhile, we’ll work with your own insurance company to ensure that Minnesota No-Fault benefits covering medical care, wage loss and other expenses are fully and promptly paid.

If you’ve been injured while riding a motorcycle, you may face an extra challenge. Often, motorcyclists are perceived as careless, regardless of what actually occurred.  This stereotype can complicate your case, as many insurance companies will go out of their way to place fault on any motorcyclist involved in an accident.  At Finn Shapiro, LLC, we understand the bias against motorcyclists and we will fight aggressively to overcome it, so that your compensation is fairly determined based upon the facts of your case.

At Finn Shapiro, LLC, our fees for handling automobile and motorcycle accidents are contingent. That means that our fee is determined by a percentage of what you recover. If you do not receive compensation, you owe no attorney’s fees to us.

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