The Christmas spirit is everywhere this time of year, even in sunny Florida. Trees are being carried into homes; lights are being strung on the tree and on the house. Gifts are being wrapped, and the song played during the wrapping might well be Andy Williams’ crooning of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
But sometimes Christmas preparation hurts—bodily injuries are unfortunately common during the holidays.
- 33 year-old male strikes head on TV stand after falling backwards from stool while hanging Christmas lights
- 43 year-old female shocked while removing Christmas lights
- 28 year-old male cut wrist when trimming Christmas tree with chainsaw
- 19 year-old male lacerated thumb while opening Christmas present with a knife
The injuries listed above aren’t anecdotal, they are real, proven, and were tracked by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC in association with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tracks emergency room visits at different hospitals, and documents Christmas related injuries each year, and between 2011 and 2015 documented more than 1,700 Christmas-related injuries—their list of Holiday Decorating Hazards.
NSPC results show that children are disproportionately affected by Christmas injuries—many of whom swallow small holiday ornaments. Christmas trees and Christmas candles pose a real threat when the trees are allowed to dry out and candles are left unattended.
CPSC Acting Chairperson Ann Marie Buerkle said, “There are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the busy holiday season…. keep your Christmas tree watered, check holiday lights before you put them on the tree and use extra caution with candles.”
“To stay fire safe all year, consumers should ensure they regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Dr. Walter G. Copan. “(Our) research demonstrates how important it is for consumers to water their Christmas trees to help prevent fires.”
CPSC data documents 18,400 holiday decorating injuries seen in emergency departments nationwide between November 2016 through January 2017. The most common injuries? Falls at 38%, lacerations, at 14%, and strains or sprains at 18%. Two deaths resulted from falling from a ladder.
Here are some tips to help ensure your own holiday season stays safe:
- If buying a fresh Christmas tree, make sure it is as recently cut as possible, and keep it well-watered
- If buying an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled ‘Fire Resistant”
- Keep small ornaments higher up the tree and away from children
- Keep burning candles within sight, or use battery candles
- Check holiday lights for broken sockets, bare wires, or loose connections and don’t use damaged strings of lights
- Test your smoke alarm—change batteries twice per year
- Be extra careful if climbing a ladder—it’s not worth the fall to get the decorations up that high
And remember that Christmas time injuries can happen outside the home, too as evidenced by the jury verdict of $3 million against a mall owner and escalator manufacturer. The injury on the escalator caused a shopper’s toe to be “crushed and shredded” during a holiday shopping trip in Arkansas. And this verdict is dwarfed by yet another escalator injury in which Dillard’s department store agreed to pay $15 million after a young girl had her hand stuck in the escalator—and lost three fingers at the age of five
Have you or a loved one been injured in a holiday accident?
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