Check your (safety) list twice for an injury-free holiday season

December 19, 2018 | 6:00 am


As Santa checks his list, you also should be checking your list this holiday season — your safety checklist, that is.

The holidays are ripe with dangers, from roadway hazards during holiday travel, to dangers at home from keeping warm and holiday decorating. It’s important you and your family take careful steps in celebrating, and make it through the holiday season injury-free.

Take note of these important safety tips courtesy of the accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

 

Holiday Travel

California Highway Patrol is conducting a DUI “maximum enforcement period” during the holidays, and encouraging Californians to use other travel options if they choose to consume drugs and alcohol, including medications, prescription or over the counter drugs that are common during the cold season.

Bakersfield Police Department, too, is helping spread the message about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving to get impaired drivers off roads. In partnership with California Office of Traffic Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officers are launching the high-visibility enforcement campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” through January 1. During this time, more officers will be on the streets of Bakersfield conducting saturation patrols, looking for drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving aggressively or distracted, and making sure drivers are properly licensed.

During the Christmas and New Year’s weekends in 2017, 25 people were killed and 643 injured on California roads, according to CHP. Don’t let yourself be a statistics this year.

“Any arrest during the holidays means a family that won’t have a loved one present during the holidays — due to an arrest or worse — because of a decision made to drive while under the influence,” said Matt Clark, attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Not only are you putting your life at risk, you are putting the lives of other innocent families at risk by driving under the influence. Just don’t do it.”

If you’re traveling long distances, plan your trip ahead of time and prepare for any potential emergencies.

 

Decorating Safely 

Decorating is one of the best parts of the holidays, but it also leads to thousands of emergency room visits every season. Here are a few tips to prevent accidents and injuries:

  • Hang breakable ornaments at top of the tree. This leaves room for kids to decorate the bottom with non-breakable items.
  • Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture.
  • Keep harmful plants out of reach. Some popular holiday plants are poisonous to children and pets, including mistletoe and holly berries.
  • Be aware of devices with button batteries. Keep those devices out of children’s reach.

 

Staying Warm

Thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12 percent of home candle fires occur in December, according to the National Safety Council, due to increased usage of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes. To prevent fires and burn injuries at home:

  • Water natural trees regularly. When needles are dry, they can catch fire easily.
  • Turn off decorative lights before leaving home or going to sleep. Regularly check lights for exposed or frayed wires and loose connections.
  • Keep candles and matches out of reach. Lit candles should be at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Check smoke alarms. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and near sleeping areas. Review your fire escape plan with family members and guests.
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com

Holiday season a time for cheer, a time for safety

December 14, 2016 | 10:44 am


It’s the time of cheer, and a time of celebration.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to make sure you and your family enjoy the holiday season, while staying as safe as possible. With so many potential dangers affiliated with the holiday season — driving and traveling, celebrating with alcohol, and decorating your home, as examples — it’s important for everyone be aware of how to remain as safe as possible and remain injury-free.

Please take note of the following safety tips as you celebrate with your family this holiday season.

 

Home Safety 

The holidays and “home” go hand in hand — home decorating and home cooking, for example. But each year, we see tens of thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating.

As you celebrate in your home, please keep these notes in mind, courtesy of the National Safety Council:

  • Make sure your Christmas tree has a stable platform.
  • If you choose an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled as fire resistant. Also, spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled. Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top.
  • Never use lighted candles near Christmas trees or boughs.
  • Keep your pets and children away from poisonous plants and other potential hazards.
  • If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered.
  • Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire.
  • Turn off all tree lights and decorations when not in use. Additionally, more than 10 percent of home candle fires take place in December. Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • When putting up decorations, use a step stool or ladder to reach high places.
  • When preparing a meal, wash hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. And reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees.

 

Celebrating with Alcohol 

It’s OK to have a little eggnog, but it’s important to plan ahead before celebrating with alcoholic drinks. During the holiday season, more people die in highway related crashes related to alcohol that any other time of year.

  • The best call is to just say “no.” Resist the pressure to drink alcohol.
  • If you do drink, designate a driver before the party begins. If you or your friends are going to a party and plan to use alcohol, decide in advance who will be the designated driver. Decide that drinking and driving is not an option.
  • The main purpose of a party is to have fun with people you know. You can stop yourself before you go too far, you just need to choose to do so.
  • Additionally, MADD and Uber has launched a national holiday campaign on Monday, in which Uber is directing riders to take a pledge on madd.org/uber to #LeavetheKeys on social media.

 

Traveling 

Tens of millions of people choose to travel during the holidays. Before you hit the road, keep these points in mind:

  • Never drink and drive. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31 percent of the all road-related crashes.
  • Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party.
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance being traveled.
  • Put that cell phone away; distracted driving causes one-quarter of all crashes.
  • Properly maintain the vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
  • Be prepared for heavy traffic, and possibly heavy snow.

The Bakersfield Police Department will be running its year-end “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization continuing into the New Year. The campaign includes DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols.

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If you or your family members are hurt this holiday season at the fault of someone else, please call the injury and accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Celebrate the holidays without drinking and driving

December 9, 2014 | 9:28 am


The holidays, traveling and parties go hand in hand. But it’s important not to mix the three, unless you have a sober driver.

If you‘re celebrating with alcohol this holiday season, the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with Kern County law enforcement, reminds you to drive sober, or get pulled over.

Due to the increase locally in drunken driving-related crashes and fatalities, the Bakersfield Police Department will be out in full force from Dec. 12 to Jan. 5 actively searching for impaired drivers. The DUI task force also plans to place two DUI-driver‘s license checkpoints and eight local roving DUI Saturation Patrols, the department reported.

California Highway Patrol, too, will be out in full force. The Bakersfield-area CHP will deploy officers on enhanced enforcement on State Routes 43, 46, 58, 65, 99, 119, 155, 178, 184, 204 and 223, and jurisdictional unincorporated roadways in Kern County, the agency reported.

During the holiday season in 2012, 40 percent of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior DUI on their record, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During that same holiday period, 37 percent of the 21 to 24-year old drivers in fatal crashes were impaired. Almost one out of six drivers under the age of 21 in those fatal crashes was also drunk, even though they were too young to legally buy or consume alcohol.

Besides causing injury and harm to others on the harm, the consequences of drinking and driving include jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses totaling $10,000 on average, not to mention humiliation drivers face among your family, friends and workplace.

The best way to avoid drinking and driving is to remain sober. But if you will celebrate with a few drinks, here are a few things you can do to stay safe:

  • When you know you’ll be drinking, leave your keys at home or give them to someone else.
  • Designate a sober driver ahead of time, or call a friend or family member.
  • Use public transportation or call a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
  • And if you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1. You could save a life.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, also reminds motorists that the most dangerous days of the year on our nation’s roadways are between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This season, MADD is asking drivers to Tie One On For Safety.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with the Kern County chapter of MADD, sponsoring and organizing the second “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K in Bakersfield on Sept. 19, 2015, at the Park at River Walk. The event is aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and to raise funds for victims of DUI crashes. Learn more about the “Walk Like MADD” event by clicking here.

If you are involved in a car accident this holiday season due to the fault of a DUI-driver or another motorist, call the car accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000. You can also visit our specialized Car Accident website by clicking here for more information.

Tips: Make sure you’re safe before you hang your Christmas lights

December 1, 2014 | 9:06 am


The end of Thanksgiving, for many people, means one thing: It’s almost time for Christmas.

With that comes the tradition of hanging beautiful Christmas lights. But stringing lights across your roof and around your home can be a safety hazard if you are not careful.

Each year, more than 15,000 people were injured during November and December, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  And each year, injuries increase. The most common reported incidents include falls, lacerations and back strains. Fires are also common, which can lead to injuries, deaths and property loss.

Personal injury attorney Matt Clark, of the Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, recently spoke with KERO Channel 23 about Christmas light safety, and the liability that comes with hiring someone to hang your lights for you.

Click here to watch the news segment.

But for those who decide to hang Christmas lights on their own, the Kern County attorneys would like you to take a look at a few safety tips, courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Before you string up a single strand of lights, carefully check them for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections.
  • Newer lights have fused plugs, which prevent sparks in case of a short circuit. Toss any old strands of lights in the trash that don’t have fuses.
  • If bulbs have burned out, replace them right away, but make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.
  • Make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.
  • Keep an eye on extension cords, as they can overheat. If the cord is hot, unplug it.
  • Don’t use tacks, nails or screws to hang lights. They can pierce the cable and become electrified. Use insulated hooks instead.
  • When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to water and debris out of the connections.
  • Tape down any ground-level extensions cords to prevent people from tripping over them.
  • Not all lights are made for outdoor use. Make sure the ones you string up on the house belong out there.
  • When you put your lights back into storage, make sure to put them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry rodents looking to turn the cords into lunch. My final advice? Be careful with ladders.

If you or a loved one is injured during the holiday season, call the Bakersfield personal injury law firm, Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com.