Tis the season to be jolly, but unfortunately, tis also the season to get hurt. Injuries and emergency room visits always spike between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Safety Council and the National Fire Protection Association, the holiday season brings about the following alarming statistics each year:
- Over 15,000 people wind up in the emergency room due to injuries sustained while decorating.
- Falls from ladders account for 33 percent of decorating injuries.
- Fires from Menorah and Christmas candles account for over 80 deaths.
- Candles also cause approximately 6,500 residential fires, 650 injuries and $237 million in property damage
- One out of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires results in death.
- Injuries incurred while wrapping or unwrapping gifts are the second most common type of holiday injury, especially on Christmas Day.
We’ve put the following tips together to help you prevent the five most common types of holiday injuries during this season.
Everyone loves a decorated home this time of the year, but your ladder is not necessarily your friend while you’re climbing up and down either indoors or outdoors. It may sound silly, but always check your ladder’s label and make sure you don’t exceed its weight limit. Remember, that ladder must hold not only your weight, but also the weight of your boxes or decorations. Always check your ladder’s rungs before you climb on them to make sure they are solid and dry. Also make sure you rest your ladder on an even surface, whether that be the ground or your floor. If you’re climbing outside, be sure your ladder is resting on bare ground free of ice and snow. And don’t let your kids climb on the ladder. Kids are especially excited this time of the year and the last thing they’re thinking about is safety.
Bright great-smelling candles are a big part of the holiday tradition for most families, filling your home with the scent of pine, cranberries and other “welcome home” fragrances. Wherever you place them, make sure your candles are in appropriate holders away from curtains or other things that can easily catch fire. Also make sure you place your candles back far enough from the edge of whatever they’re sitting on so that no one can brush up against them with a piece of loose clothing. This is especially true if you have or will have young children in your home over the holidays. Never place a burning candle within a child’s reach or on any surface, such as a table cloth or decorative furniture scarf, that a child could easily pull off.
Twinkling Christmas tree lights are a joy to behold, but don’t take them for granted. Always check the cord for every set of lights to make sure it’s not frayed or otherwise damaged. Likewise check it for loose, cracked or broken light sockets. Try not to use more than three sets of lights per extension cord and always turn off your tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
Whether cooking, baking, wrapping or unwrapping gifts, it’s easy for you, your family and your guests to cut themselves. Again, young children are particularly susceptible to cuts during the holidays. Unfortunately, a lot of packaging can’t be opened without a knife. Make sure your knives are sharp enough to do their jobs, but be careful how you use them and never let a child use them.
- Outdoor Injuries
What kid doesn’t want a sled for Christmas? And admit it, you’d just love to go whizzing down a snowy hill on a sled yourself to accommodate your inner child, wouldn’t you? Sleds can be dangerous for both kids and adults, however. Always sled in a safe place as clear as possible of trees, shrubbery and other potential hazards. And never sled in the street unless it’s been closed down for that purpose.
Ice skating is a big part of winter fun for a lot of people, but it’s best to do it at a rink or other supervised area. Don’t just assume that the ice on a pond or lake is thick enough to support your weight. It takes ice a long time to build up on water, and anything under four inches is unsafe for skating or any other activity. Also remember that pond or lake ice is seldom the same thickness across the entire surface. Skate nearer the edges of whatever body of water you’re on, not out toward the middle.
Be sure to dress yourself and your kids appropriately whenever engaging in outdoor winter fun. The last thing any of you needs is a case of frostbite or hypothermia.
- Holiday Driving
It goes without saying that people are more distracted during the holidays, their heads full of gift shopping lists, last-minute decorations, and all the other things that the season entails. It also goes without saying that alcohol consumption increases during the holidays, especially on New Year’s Eve. Combine all this with snow or ice on many roads and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Now more than ever is the time not to use your cellphone while driving. Also make sure that all your windows and outside rearview mirrors are free of ice, snow and fog. Be especially vigilant for harried shoppers in parking lots and streets, and keep a sharp lookout for patches of black ice.
This is traditionally “the most wonderful time of the year.” Keep it that way for you, your family and your guests by following simple safety rules in all you and they do. Happy Holidays!
And if, despite your best efforts, you or a loved one sustains an injury during this holiday season, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).