The phrase “home for the holidays” conjures up cozy feelings of family and fun times. Unfortunately, it can also refer to being stuck at home recovering from common Christmas injuries. Don’t miss out on holiday fun because of preventable accidents. Instead, look around your home and ask what common holiday accidents could occur. Take simple steps to protect your family, friends, and finances from common Christmas injuries.
How common are Christmas injuries?
During the three-month holiday season, more than 18,000 people will visit an emergency room because of falls, cuts, swallowing something that isn’t food, and burns—all caused by holiday decorations or celebrations.
In 2018, holiday decorating incidents killed five people. From 2014 to 2016, Christmas trees and candles caused about 1,200 fires and killed ten people. The Consumer Product Safety Commission collects and analyzes data on common Christmas injuries to help make being home for the holidays a safe, enjoyable experience.
The 12 Days of Christmas Caution
Everyday holiday activities occasionally result in electric shock, lacerations, deep cuts, falls, smoke inhalation, burns, choking, sprains and strains, and traumatic brain injuries. Don’t let common Christmas injuries spoil the holiday spirit at your house! Be aware and prepare by following these personal-injury-lawyer-tested accident prevention tips.
One Christmas Tree
While the Christmas tree is often the star of holiday decorations, it is also the source of many holiday injuries. When using a ladder to decorate the tree, firmly place all ladder legs on flat ground, don’t step on the highest rung, and don’t reach in ways that can affect your balance.
Water live Christmas trees regularly because dry trees can easily catch fire. Artificial trees should be fire-resistant. Get help and protect your back when moving a tree into and out of your home or while unpacking and setting up an artificial tree.
Two Toxic Plants
Plants and greenery add a festive look and smell to a holiday home. Two popular plants for decorating, holly and mistletoe, can be poisonous for children and pets. While berries are the most likely part to be eaten, every part of the holly and mistletoe plants are poisonous. Small amounts may not cause a reaction, but too much can cause death.
For years, poinsettias have been considered toxic. More rigorous research has revealed that these beautiful plants are not particularly dangerous. The sap can cause a rash and eating the plant can cause.
Three Tall Ladders
Falls from ladders are at the top of the list of frequent causes of serious injuries during the holiday season. When using a ladder, whether inside or out, follow these tips:
- Check for damage and moisture before climbing.
- Wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes.
- Place ladder on solid, even ground.
- Follow the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height, the ladder base should be one foot away from the wall.
- Don’t climb while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise).
- Always have someone nearby while on a ladder.
- Don’t lean or overreach, and always keep your torso between the ladder side rails.
- Maintain three points of contact (two feet and one hand or one foot and two hands).
Four Rooms of Decorations
Decorations are festive yet potentially dangerous. The primary injuries decorations cause are cuts from broken glass and sharp parts. Use care when handling glass ornaments. Keep children and pets away from ornaments that can be knocked off a tree, table, or counter. When an ornament breaks, clean up all glass. Use a wet paper towel to get up tiny shards that can embed themselves in fingers and feet.
Five Strands of Lights
Twinkly, warm, and inviting—sparkly lights wake up the Christmas spirit in all of us. Lights can also cause fires, though. Only use lights that have been safety-tested by a reputable laboratory. Before putting up indoor or outdoor lights, check for frayed insulation, bare wires, loose connections, cracked sockets, and broken bulbs. For lights on artificial trees, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about placing the lights. Keep live trees well-watered; dry trees are more likely to ignite if there is a problem with the lights.
Six Long Cords
Where there are lights, there are cords. And where there are cords, there are often falls. Keep cords out of places where people walk and don’t place them under rugs and carpets. For outdoor decorations, only use cords approved for outdoor use. Cords should be safety-tested by an independent laboratory and should be in good condition. Don’t plug multiple extension cords together and don’t overload cords or electrical outlets.
Seven Days of Cooking
Kitchens are a hotspot for holiday hazards such as burns, cuts, and falls. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of household fires. While these kitchen safety tips apply year-round, they are particularly applicable during the holidays:
- Keep children out of the cooking area except when they are cooking.
- Keep flammable items (paper towels, cookbooks, potholders, bags) away from the stove and oven.
- Use potholders and grease covers to avoid burns.
- Keep a non-expired kitchen fire extinguisher nearby.
- Know how to extinguish different kinds of kitchen fires.
- Turn pan handles toward the back of the stove.
- Keep cords for electric appliances out of the way.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting sleeves or tops while cooking.
- Follow food safety guidelines when preparing and serving food.
Eight Cups of Eggnog
Never drink and drive. Anyone who might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs should not operate a motorized vehicle, ride a wheeled vehicle, operate machinery, or climb ladders. Be mindful of the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body and use moderation and common sense.
Nine Tiny Objects
Children may mistake small ornaments, decorations, and plant berries for holiday treats. If children will be around, place items small enough to fit through a paper towel tube out of reach. Look for choking hazards on lower branches of trees and coffee tables.
Even edible objects can be dangerous to small children. Hard nuts and candies should be kept where children can’t access them. Young children should eat while seated, with adult supervision. Children should never move around with candy canes or lollipops in their mouths.
Ten Pretty Packages
Surprisingly, every Christmas, many people cut themselves while unwrapping gifts. Opening packages with boxcutters, pens, and overly sharp or overly dull knives and scissors can lead to common Christmas injuries such as lacerations and puncture wounds. Use the right tool for the job, watch what you’re doing, and open carefully. Hard plastic packaging can also cause serious wounds. Treat any abrasions or cuts as soon as they occur, using proper first aid procedures to prevent infections.
Eleven Gifts for Giving
Keep these suggestions in mind when choosing gifts:
- Check the US Consumer Product Safety Commission product recall list before shopping.
- Follow the recommended age guidelines when buying for young children.
- Be mindful of the ages of all children in a household. For example, gifts that are appropriate for an older child and have many small parts may not be appropriate if toddlers are frequently around.
- Try to verify that the product you are buying is authentic and meets US safety standards.
Twelve Burning Candles
Candles are a leading cause of household fires. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles before falling asleep. Follow directions regarding wick length and burn time. Safely light and extinguish candles. Consider replacing wax candles with LED candles.
If Common Christmas Injuries Occur, Contact Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel
The safety lawyers at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel want to help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Many common Christmas injuries are the result of defective products or someone else’s negligence. If you are suffering because of an injury, contact a personal injury attorney today for a free consultation. We will listen to what happened and let you know how we can help.