Who (besides Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) would ever think that decorating for the holidays would result in sending thousands of people to the emergency room? In 2012, the National Safety Council reported 15,000 injuries from holiday decorating! The National Safety Council states “holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January.” Injuries are caused by falls off ladders, tripping over electrical cords, poisonings, or fires.
December, January and February are peak months for home fires. The major causes of home fires are from cooking, especially if unattended, followed by unsafe heating devices, open flames (such as candles), dry Christmas trees (if you have the internet, view this clip http://fire.nist.gov/tree_fire.htm ) and other holiday decorations (such as lighting). In 2013, there were 2,200 deaths by fire burns and other fire-related injuries. 12% of candle fires occur in December. Turkey fryers have also caused a number of injuries as well as over 8 million dollars in property damage. (Data sources: National Fire Protection Association, The Consumer Protection Safety Commission and the Electrical Safety Foundation International.)
Most of us think that such injuries or incidents will not happen to us. However, they do happen to people just like us. What we need is “the gift that keeps on giving: PREVENTION.” Follow safe practices, read all directions, don’t take short-cuts and use common sense! For example, most strings of lights have instructions about safe use. It will say, “Plug in no more than three strings”. But how many people have added that fourth or fifth string despite what the directions say? How many people read actually read the directions?
We are busy people. During the holiday season, we often have a very long “to do” list. But rushing a job to get it done should not mean taking shortcuts that circumvent safety. Don’t do something in a manner in which you know isn’t the correct way to do it. (Then you won’t have to say “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”) In addition to staying injury-free from decorating activities, keep the following messages in mind to make sure your family has a safe holiday season.
If you give sporting equipment such as skateboards, skates or bicycles for holiday presents, be sure to add the proper protective gear. Emergency rooms report an increase in fractures within the few days following the holiday due to spills, falls and collisions.
Candles, while beautifully casting a warm glow, can be very dangerous any time of the year. Frequently they are placed near greens that become quite flammable as they dry out. The holidays can present some special risks for children. Emergency rooms often see children for holiday-related injuries like aspirated pine needles, little ornaments or artificial snow. Poisoning can be a big problem, too. Many holiday plants and berries are poisonous (to your pets also). Alcohol poisoning can also occur if little ones get their hands on glasses with small amounts of leftover drinks. For an information packet on holiday safety, District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call QVHD, 248-4528 or request by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.