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Decorating-Related Injuries

Don’t let a fall or a fire ruin your holidays.

Photo Courtesy of TayaJohnston/ Shutterstock

The holiday season is a time for decking the halls and celebrating, but all too often holiday decorating can lead to unexpected injuries. A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that over the holidays in 2019, 14,800 people were treated in emergency rooms for decorating-related injuries. That’s about 160 decorating-related injuries every day during that time period!

About half of these holiday-related injuries involve falls, often from ladders. Broken wrists and arms are common injuries when someone falls off of a ladder and reaches out to try to break their fall. A more serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal injury, can happen, too, if the tumble is particularly bad.

Take care to set up your ladder in a secure manner when you’re decorating. If you’re hanging lights or garlands outside of your house, it can be a challenge to find a level, steady footing for the ladder, but for safety’s sake it’s crucial to be sure you set your ladder up on solid ground. Don’t climb higher than you feel comfortable, and be careful that you don’t reach out too far and lose your balance. Even if you don’t feel like you are very high up off of the ground, a fall from even a modest height can lead to a trip to the Emergency Room.

Fires are another serious holiday risk, usually caused by either dry Christmas trees or unattended candles. Every November and December there are approximately 160 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires, which together cause about 30 deaths, 180 injuries, and a whopping $56 million in property loss.

To prevent a Christmas tree fire, be sure to keep the tree well-watered, and dispose of it as soon as it starts getting dried out. If your tree is artificial, look for a “fire resistant” label. Carefully inspect your lights every year to be sure they are in good working order, since about half of all Christmas tree fires involve electrical distribution or lighting equipment. It’s also smart to make sure that any heating equipment is far enough away from the tree that it can’t spark a fire.

Not all decoration fires start with the Christmas tree. In recent years U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 770 home structure fires every year that began with decorations that were not Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of two deaths, 30 injuries, and $11 million in direct property damage. If you are decorating with candles, be sure to blow them out if you are leaving the room, and make sure that any open flame is well away from curtains or any other flammable material.

Keep your holiday season joyful and injury-free by taking extra care as you make your home merry and bright!