By now, many of you already have your homes beautifully decorated, with the tree trimmed and glowing lights outside the house.  If we’re too late for you, this warning is for those who haven’t done their decorating yet, and/or all of you who will be taking them down in a few weeks.  According to the U.S. Consumer Safety Products Commission, around 12,500 people each year are treated in emergency rooms for cuts, shocks, and other holiday decorating-related injuries.  Four in ten accidents are reported to be falls from ladders, with men being the ones hurt more often than women.  

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises that when working on a ladder, position the ladder close to the area you plan to work, and keep materials near-by, in order to not to have to reach too far.  They also advise to take your time in order to avoid risks.   More good advice from the AAOS: place some nightlights in rooms where you’ve had to rearrange furniture to accommodate decorations.  This will hopefully help your family avoid falling by lessening nighttime confusion. 

If you choose a fresh Christmas tree, be sure to keep it watered frequently.  Artificial trees should be marked “fire resistant”, indicating the tree will likely not catch on fire.  Hundreds of fires are attributed to dried-out Christmas trees each year, resulting in approximately 17 deaths, and an average of over $13 million in property loss and damage.  Be certain that any lights you put on your tree are tested in recognized labs that show they meet safety standards.  Many imported lights may not meet those safety standards.  Christmas trees are things of beauty, but there are other hazards involved, in addition to the lights on them.  Avoid decorating with breakable or sharp decorations.  If using “angel hair” (spun glass), be sure to wear string knit gloves to avoid cutting your hands. Also, art snow sprays can contaminate the lungs and cause skin irritation, so read the container’s directions carefully. 

Candles also start numerous fires each year, resulting in an average of 150 deaths, 1,200 injuries, and approximately $385 million in property loss.  Please be sure to never leave your home with candles burning.  Of course, you would never leave burning candles in the reach of children or where they could be tipped over by pets.  Many times we have seen persons dislocated from their apartments because of the carelessness of a tenant that left a burning candle unattended.

We hope your holiday decorating goes by without incident.  The emergency rooms are standing by, just in case, but let’s keep them quiet this year by staying safe and healthy for the holidays!