The holiday season is upon us, which means Christmas trees, twinkling lights and lots of festive food. It also means an uptick in house fires, slip-and-falls, and other health hazards. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year there are roughly 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating, many of them caused by ladder accidents. This time of year, many of us use ladders to string holiday lights from roofs and trees around our yards but we’re not always as careful as we need to be. The most common causes of injuries related to ladders are falls, lacerations, and back strains. In addition, 4,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with extension cords. Half of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains as a result of people tripping over the cords.
However, the number one danger this time of year is fires. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, Christmas tree and holiday decoration fires result in twice the injuries and 5 times more fatalities per fire than the average winter fire. In fact, statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that 30 percent of all home fires, and 38 percent of all home fire deaths, occur during the winter holiday months. The NFPA also reports that Christmas tree fires cause an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in property damage every year. And holiday candles may pose an even greater risk. In just a two-year period, candle-related fires caused 70 deaths, 680 injuries and more than $308 million in property loss. One of the best ways to prevent holiday fires is to discard holiday lights with evidence of damage, such as broken sockets and frayed wires, water live Christmas trees to keep them moist, and always extinguish candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.
You can also follow these additional safety tips to help prevent holiday-related injuries this season:
- Always follow warnings on ladders, such as weight limits and use requirements. And never try to rest a ladder on an unstable surface, such as shrubs, mud, or
- When setting up a Christmas tree, always keep them away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Place the tree out of the way of foot
traffic and never block hallways or doorways with your tree.
- If you decorate your tree in a home with children, take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts away from the reach of small children who could swallow small pieces. And try to avoid trimmings or decorations that resemble candy or food that may tempt a small child.
- Only use holiday lights with the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) sticker or label since this ensures that the lights meet strict requirements for indoor and outdoor use.
- Avoid using “fire salts” that produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. While attractive to view, these salts contain heavy metals that may cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if swallowed.
If you or a loved one were injured due to no fault of your own, contact a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury lawyer who
can evaluate your case and get the recovery you deserve.