Holiday safety is a major issue from late November, before Thanksgiving, to mid-January when the New Year festivities wind down. During this time families gatherings, parties, travel, big meals and vacation days with kids home from school abound, presenting many opportunities for individuals to become injured or worse. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there is an average of 230 injuries each day during the holiday season – and that is injuries caused by decorations alone! Injuries range from minor ones such as cuts and scrapes to tragic loss of life.
People often hear about accidents stemming from road accidents, toys and gifts, fires, food poisoning, and even accidents involving turkey fryers. It may surprise you, then, that injuries related to holiday decorating are actually the most common types of injuries suffered during the holiday season. According to personal injury attorneys, Cogan & Power, P.C., in December 2015 there were more than 14,000 injuries treated in hospitals that were caused by decorating accidents.
While decorations immediately add a festive flair to any home or office, and are a great way to celebrate the holiday season, they can also be quite dangerous. One particularly dangerous decoration is what is known as angel hair. Made from spun glass, this whimsical decoration can irritate the eyes and skin. As such, wearing gloves whenever dealing with angel hair is a must. Likewise, spraying artificial snow can irritate the lungs if inhaled. Defective holiday decorations can also cause burns, cuts, punctures and more.
Some people get injured not from the actual decorations themselves but during the process of decorating. People tend to step on unsafe places or unstable pieces of furniture when trying to place their decorations in high up places, such as when hanging lights or wreaths or placing ornaments at the top of a Christmas tree. In some cases, ladders can even malfunction, or are used improperly causing falls. The risk from decorating increases when the decoration is being hung outside in a high place – such as on the roof or a tree – because inclement weather conditions like wind, rain, snow and sleet can make a seemingly simple task very dangerous or deadly.
The risk of injury does not mean you need to hide away all your decorations. Decorations can still play a festive role during the holiday when some important safety precautions are taken. Some common sense precautions include: always using a safe step ladder that is meant for stepping on, and not chairs or other furniture that can topple, break, tip over or become unbalanced; cleaning up right away once the decorating is over so no one slips and falls or trips over leftover wrapping paper, decorations, ornaments and lights; blowing out candles when leaving the room where they are burning. The CPSC also recommends the following tips for staying safe during the holiday season: using only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials; choosing materials that do not contain lead or other harmful properties; avoiding using decorations that are sharp or breakable; and keeping all small pieces away from children.