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Homeowners Insurance

5 Common Holiday Accidents & How Insurance Has You Covered

It may surprise you to learn just how common it is to be injured in some fairly common types of holiday accidents each year. Here are the top five mishaps – and how you could avoid becoming a statistic.


1. Falls While Decorating the House

While a slip or fall may sound like no big deal, fall-related injuries can result in everything from cuts and bruises to broken bones, head injuries, and death. Decorating the house, putting up a Christmas tree, and hanging lights or other decorations from the roof are reasons you might lose your footing and become injured in a fall during the holiday season.


Falls associated with holiday decorating are actually quite common. In 2004, and for the first time ever, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released national estimates of fall-related injuries around the holidays. The CDC’s analysis found nearly 20,000 people were treated in the ER between 2000-2003 for injuries sustained while decorating. Nearly half of these cases were due to falling from a ladder – and most involved adults 20-49 years old.


To help prevent fall-related injuries and similar holiday accidents:


  • Use a sturdy ladder, and only on a level and stable surface.
  • Arrange for someone to assist you with the decorations.
  • Be especially careful when on a ladder or the roof – don’t overreach to save time; stop and move the ladder to maintain your stability.
  • Save the eggnog or other alcoholic beverages for after the decorating is done.


2. Fires & Burn Injuries

Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of most house fires. The reason for most of those cooking fires? Unattended cooking – not paying adequate attention to food being cooked or leaving the kitchen without anyone keeping an eye on it. To top it off, the biggest day of the year for cooking fires is Thanksgiving Day, followed closely by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Other potential causes of fires and burns around the holidays include dried-out Christmas trees, overloaded electrical circuits due to lighting needs, and fireworks on New Year’s Eve.


To help prevent fires and burns and similar holiday accidents:


  • Don’t cook while distracted – and don’t leave the kitchen while the stovetop is in use, or leave the home while food is in the oven.
  • Keep lids nearby to quickly snuff out the oxygen to a small pot/pan fire.
  • If you’re going to use a turkey fryer, make sure the turkey is 100% thawed before adding it to the oil, keep the fryer at least 10’ from the home, and use long sturdy tongs designed specifically for this use.
  • Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher (ABC-rated) in the kitchen and bedrooms.
  • Ensure you have working smoke detectors located throughout the home.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure it is regularly watered. If going for an artificial tree, get one made of flame-retardant materials.
  • Dispose of your Christmas tree ASAP after the holiday is over – the longer the tree stays in the home, the greater the fire risk.
  • Use outdoor lights and cords outside, and indoor lights/cords inside.


3. Motor Vehicle Accidents

The end-of-year holiday season – beginning with Thanksgiving and ending after New Year's Day – is one of the busiest travel times of the year. It’s no wonder the number of auto accidents increases as well, making it one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. It doesn’t help many drivers are distracted, tired, and stressed this time of year. 


To help prevent vehicle crashes and similar holiday accidents:


  • Buckle up, every time.
  • Drive defensively – and be on the lookout for the unexpected.
  • Don’t get behind the wheel (or let anyone else get behind the wheel) if they’re impaired. Choose a designated driver ahead of time or take an Uber or Lyft. The inconvenience isn’t worth a life: yours or someone else on the road.  


4. Foodborne Illness

So many get-togethers toward the end of the year are centered around meals. This may include sit-down dinners, buffet lines or serve-yourself situations, as well as hors d’oeuvres or tapas passed around at a party. With all this eating, the risk of foodborne illness is high. Any time the food you’re eating is not stored, prepared, or cooked properly, you risk food poisoning.


To help prevent food poisoning and similar holiday accidents:


  • Don’t eat perishables sitting out for more than 2 hours.
  • Don’t eat raw foods, such as cookie dough, raw eggs, or raw flour*.
  • When dealing with a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it properly and completely – the safest method is to thaw it in the refrigerator, allowing 1 day for each 4-5 lbs. in weight.
  • If preparing food for others, be sure to cook foods to the proper temperature (e.g., to 165⁰F for poultry/meat), and store perishables at less than 40⁰F.
  • Keep kitchen surface areas clean and clear.
  • Wash your hands often.


*Flour is not treated to kill germs and is responsible for many cases of food poisoning, such as E. coli or salmonella bacteria.


5. Dog Bites

Did you know dog bites are more common during the holidays? It’s true. There are many reasons for this, including added household commotion, changes in routine, and lots of new faces. It can leave your normally gentle and loving dog overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, and stressed.


To help prevent dog bites and similar holiday accidents:


  • Get your dog used to staying in a quiet bedroom or other space, away from the hubbub. Use it when you’re hosting a party or when new or many people visit your home.
  • Try to maintain a feeding/exercise/sleep time routine as close to usual as possible throughout the holidays.
  • Always ask a dog’s owner before petting their dog – then ask the dog’s permission by conducting a consent test, as illustrated in this video:

Signs a dog may not want to be petted include licking their lips, turning their head or body away from you, stiff body posture, and wide-open eyes. Signs a dog welcomes petting include coming toward your hand after you pull it away, leaning its body into you, and relaxed, half-closed eyes.

Holiday Accidents Occur – It’s Why You Have Insurance

Despite your best efforts and intentions, holiday accidents and mishaps do happen. We’re often the busiest over the holidays, as we struggle to balance work, family, and other obligations, amid all the usual holiday activities, such as cooking and decorating the home, as well as hosting home-based parties. Time is often short, and so many of us are often distracted this time of year.


But it’s OK. Because homeowners insurancecondo insurance, and renters insurance offer significant protection for you over the holidays. For example, all of these policies include personal liability and medical payments to others, so if a guest is injured in your home, there will be money for their medical bills as well as your legal fees, if necessary. Also, damage due to a fire tends to be included in most standard homeowner and condo owner policies, under dwelling / Coverage A coverage. Renters insurance policies protect personal possessions in the event of fire and many other common threats.


Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, if you have pets, you may be able to add-on animal liability insurance, which protects you against unintentional bites or other harm caused to guests in your home. Auto insuranceboating insurance, and more may come into play should you have an accident over the holidays or need a tow.


Do You Need Insurance Protection? We Can Help

Don’t let holiday accidents ruin the season for you and your family. The insurance professionals at The Windward Insurance Agency can help you get set up with the right kind of protection based on your unique needs. Getting started is as easy as going online to get your quote now. You can also call us at (866) 231-2433 for assistance