The holiday season is full of festivities, delicious meals, and family time, but it's also a season very prone to accidents if you're not careful. Last Christmas season—during November and December 2015—there were six fatalities and an estimated 14,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide due to holiday decorations. That’s an average of about 230 injuries per day during the holiday season.
The last thing you want to do around or on the holidays is spend your celebration time in the hospital. The best way to avoid this scenario is to be careful and prepared for at least some of the crazy things that could happen. Here are five of those possible accidents you might be facing this winter and a few tips to avoid them.
1. Ladder Falls
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC), decorating incidents are the top cause of injury during the holidays. Most of these injuries are due to falls, which is among the most common reasons people are hospitalized during the winter months. To avoid injury while spreading holiday cheer, avoid drinking, check your ladder before stepping on (its position on the ground, making sure the rungs are dry and unbroken, etc.), keep your kids in a safe spot on the ground, and don't decorate alone if you can help it.
2. Decoration and Candle-Based Fires
From 2010 to 2012, there was an estimated annual average of 200 fires where the Christmas tree was the first item ignited, causing 10 deaths, 20 injuries, and $17 million in property loss per year. To stay in the clear of fires from your holiday decor, buy safe lights (LED lights are a safe bet), check your lights for damage before you use them, burn candles safely (keep lit candles in sight and away from kids, pets, furniture, curtains, Christmas trees, and other flammable decorations), and take a chance on an artificial tree (look for one with a "fire resistant" label).
3. Ice Falls
Unless you're traveling to warmer climates this holiday season, there's a chance you'll be where there's snow—and often where there's snow, there's ice. To avoid as many slipping hazards as possible, de-ice your driveway and walkways as soon as possible. Laying down ice melt products before it snows if possible gives you a better chance of walking out to less of a makeshift skating rink and adding a bit of sand or cat litter to the mixture works, too. If it's already snowed, clear as much snow as possible before you spread your de-icing mixture.
4. Lifting and Overburdening Trees
Real Christmas trees really bring the holiday spirit into your home, but they can bring a lot of hazards, too. Trees are much heavier than they look and it's important that you don't attempt to move them alone, that you always lift with your legs rather than your back, and to be careful of all these things when taking down the tree as well. Trimming the tree and adding ornaments comes with its own risks, too—CPSC recommendations include reconsidering the use of sharp, heavy, or breakable ornaments as they can easily fall and it's easy to cut your hands on a broken ornament. If you have kids around for the holiday, avoid using ornaments that look edible—anything that appears to be food or candy and has small removable parts is not recommended as those can turn into choking hazards in the blink of an eye.
5. Wrapping Cuts
Wrapping may seem like the safest thing to do during the holidays, but it's actually hazardous as well. Very few of these injuries are lethal, but they can be bloody and can really, really hurt. Lacerations and puncture wounds are prominent when people are using knives, scissors, and other sharp objects to wrap or open their presents. Don't use kitchen knives (especially dull ones), pens, scissors, and other inappropriate tools to open presents. If you have to use something, use a safety blade. Always cut away from you and other people and keep the blade away from children—meaning help them out if they're having trouble opening their own gifts.
Stay safe this holiday season and have a wonderful holiday from us at Boughter Law!