The Most Common Holiday Injuries, And How To Avoid Them

It's the most dangerous time of the year. With kids cutting fingers, dads falling off ladders, and you slipping onto your rear. It's that hap-haphazardly season of all. Here are some tips for making it through the holidays unscathed.

Illustration by Angelica Alzona. Photos by Quinn Dombrowski, m01229, Michael Dorausch, Hades2k.

Avoid Falling While Hanging Christmas Lights and Decorations

Christmas decorations can be a major cause of injury during the holidays. Most of these injuries are due to falls, which Dr. Shawn Evans tells CNN is one of the most common reasons people are hospitalised this time of year. And you don't need to fall far to injure yourself. It only takes a few feet to get a concussion, break a bone, or tweak your back. To avoid injury:

  • Don't drink and decorate: Lay off the eggnog and save it for after the decorating. Many decorating injuries involve alcohol.
  • Don't decorate alone: If something does happen, you want someone to be around to help you or call for help. Same goes for others — don't let your family decorate alone. Offer to help out, especially if they're elderly.
  • Check your ladder before you use it: Make sure none of the rungs are broken and that you don't exceed the recommended weight limit. Also make sure the rungs are dry before you climb.
  • Set your ladder up properly: Place the ladder on solid, even ground. Use the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height you have to climb, move the base one foot away from the wall. And have someone hold it steady for you.
  • Keep kids safe on the ground: Kids will want to help you decorate, but they're better off handing you tools or holding the ladder.

You may have already hung up most of your lights and decorations around the house, but these dangers are just as present when you go to take them down. So don't disregard these tips after all the fun stuff has already happened.

Keep Decorations and Candles From Starting Fires

If you don't want your family roasting on an open fire because your real Christmas tree has caught on fire, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Buy safe lights: The lights you use should bear the marking of a safety testing laboratory. LEDs are a great choice as they're energy efficient and run cooler.
  • Check lights for damage before use: Discard sets that have any exposed or frayed wires, cracked or broken bulbs, or any other damage.
  • Burn candles safely: Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where they can be knocked over by kids or pets. Also, make sure candles aren't placed near anything that can catch fire, like decorations, curtains, furniture, or Christmas trees. The video above will show you why.
  • Consider an artificial tree: An artificial Christmas tree is less likely to act as kindling in your living room. Look for one with a "fire resistant" label.

Regardless of what kind of tree you go with, keep it away from heat sources. And if you do decide on having a real tree, the National Fire Protection Association recommends you check for freshness before you buy. It should be green, not brown, and needles and branches shouldn't break easily when you bend them.

Lift Christmas Trees Safely and Hang Appropriate Ornaments

There's nothing quite like a real Christmas tree in the living room, handling trees could be pretty dangerous. They can be much heavier than they look, so it's important you don't try to move them alone, and that you always lift with your legs, not your back. Otherwise you can strain your back, injure your spine, strain your shoulder, or lose your footing and fall. Again, your tree may already be up, but don't forget to take care when you take it down.

Decorating your tree with ornaments and trimming comes with its own set of safety issues as well. It's recommended that you reconsider using sharp, heavy, or breakable decorations. They can fall and hit someone, and people can easily cut their hands on shattered ornaments, like those shiny glass orbs. And if you have little ones around for the holiday, avoid using ornaments or trimming that look edible. Anything that appears to be food, candy, or has small, removable parts can be a very real choking hazard.

Unwrap Gifts Without Cutting Yourself

It might seem odd, but injuries incurred while wrapping or unwrapping gifts are the second most common types of holly, jolly mishaps — especially on Christmas Day. Very few of these injuries are life-threatening, but they can be gory. Lacerations and puncture wounds occur when people use knives, scissors, and other sharp objects to wrap or open their presents.

The fix here is pretty easy: don't use kitchen knives (especially dull ones,) pens, scissors and other inappropriate tools to open your presents. Tools should only be used for their intended purpose. If you absolutely must use a blade of some kind for opening gifts, use a safety blade (you can get one for a few bucks.) And always cut away from you and other people, and keep the blade away from the youngins'. Help them out if they're having a hard time ripping through their presents.


Comments

    Really a useful article.
    My uncle fell off of the gate while decorating for Christmas eve. Thanks to Lord that the gate was not too high; thus, he did not get any serious injuries and is safe now.

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