November 2017 LegalMatch Newsletter
10/26/2017 08:34 AM

Fire Risk: Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

For those unlucky turkeys who didn’t receive a Presidential pardon, the third Thursday of each November is a risky one—and not just for the gobblers. Deep-frying a bird, or birds if we’re talking ‘turducken,’ has become a popular method of preparing the main course. However, it can quickly become unpopular when the fire department is called. Any time a vat of boiling grease has the potential to light your house on fire, you might want to take a few precautions.

During the holiday season, insurance claims associated with Thanksgiving jump 15%, while fires caused by deep frying turkeys jump a whopping 300%. The average insurance claim for these fires is around $29,000, so make sure your homeowners insurance is current before dipping your bird in hot oil.

Homeowners insurance typically does cover structural fires, but you will want to check your fire insurance for other coverage. For instance, the contents of your home, e.g., clothing and furniture, may or may not be covered. If they are covered, you may only receive reimbursement for what they cost, not for the cost to replace them. Check the front page of your policy, and take note of the following tips to prevent an accident:

  • Do not use fryer in an enclosed area, and this includes your garage.
  • Do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use safety gear.
  • Thaw turkey completely before frying.
  • Keep the fryer on a flat surface.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire, and keep an extinguisher nearby.

Just taking a few extra steps can keep the flames away from your home, your bird a dining table masterpiece, and the drama of Thanksgiving left to your in-laws.

Dangers of Underage Drinking

Though drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, college students across the country are throwing caution to the wind and gearing up for weekends filled with beer pong, keg stands, and rounds of tequila shots.

Binge drinking is a common practice and is usually always followed by seriously poor decision making. Many schools have fraternities and sororities where drinking excessively is part of the hazing process. On the night of February 23, 2017 a young man attending Penn State died as a result of his fraternity’s hazing ritual. Surrounding members of the fraternity did nothing to help him, and as a result, 18 students were charged in his death. 

Rape is another big issue afflicting college campuses. Slipping date rape drugs into the drinks of unknowing victims is all too easy in a setting where beverages are handed out like candy on Halloween night. Protect yourself. Never accept a drink from someone you don’t trust (get or pour your own), never leave your drink unattended, and use the buddy system.

Injuries and destruction of property are commonplace when alcohol is involved. If you have provided alcohol to a minor, you may be held liable for anything that happens while they were intoxicated. Other students may also be held liable, particularly when coercion to drink is a factor, as outlined above in the Penn State tragedy.

Whether you are underage and drinking or an adult providing alcohol to minors, you could face criminal or civil charges. Minor in possession (MIP) charges are common misdemeanors on college campuses. If property is damaged, a misdemeanor or felony charge could be brought, depending on the extent of damage. Avoid having a rap sheet, and think before you drink.


How to Prepare for Black Friday

There are some of us that wouldn’t step foot near a retail establishment the day following Thanksgiving, and then there are those who live for the deals. This is for you, brave bargain shoppers of the world.

Camping out in front of your favorite big box store waiting to score a cheap 50” TV isn’t quite as exciting as the evening before the running of the bulls, but the chaos of people and bovine stampedes is arguably similar. Both are very dangerous, and can be deadly. Injuries have become commonplace, and in 2013, a temporary Walmart employee was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers in Valley Stream, New York.

Businesses can be held liable for injury, particularly if they did nothing to prevent it, or participated in behavior that could instigate chaos. For instance, by putting on a sale of a video game where only five copies are made available, it’s reasonably foreseeable that a problem could develop. If the store is not prepared for large crowds and doesn’t take precautions to prevent premises liability, they could be in serious trouble if a mob strikes.

Shoppers can also be held liable for their behavior. Fistfights and pepper spray could land bargain hunters in hot water, too. If you want to stay safe, try to avoid massive crowds and sales that seem to attract a greater amount of people. If you do find yourself in a large crowd, keep your purse close your body and your wallet in your front pocket. Not only are there pickpockets, but credit card theft is now commonplace. Try to use only one card, so if it is stolen, you’ll be able to contain it more quickly.

If shopping from the comfort of your own home sounds more enjoyable, you’re in luck. Black Friday happens online as well, with round two on Cyber Monday. Happy hunting, get those deals before they’re gone!

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