Holiday Decorating Injuries Send Thousands to Emergency Room Each Year: CPSC

Federal safety officials are warning consumers about the risk of injury from holiday decorating, with an average of 240 people treated in the emergency room each day during the Christmas season for problems associated with setting up trees, houses and other holiday decorations. 

According to a safety warningissued this week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were over 14,500 holiday decorating injuries that required hospital treatment during November and December 2014, including at least 12 deaths.

Lacerations were one of the top decoration-related injuries last year, leading the CPSC to warn consumers to take care with sharp, weighted and breakable decorations, to prevent deep cuts.

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In addition, falls, back strains and ingestion of foreign objects were also among the top holiday decorating injuries. According to the warning, 36% of holiday decorating injuries involved falls of some type, with ladder injuries accounting for half of those accidents.

Consumers are being urged to avoid tree trimmings that resemble food or candy, which may entice a small child to put the items in their mouth or swallow them. Prevent choking by placing decorations with small removable parts out of reach of young children.

Fires are also a major concern during the holidays, with many blazes occurring as a result of Christmas trees, holiday lights and candles.

From 2010 to 2012, an average of 200 fires occurred where the Christmas tree was the first item to ignite. Those fires caused 10 deaths, 20 injuries and $17 million in property damage, according to the CPSC. One in every 9 Christmas tree fires results in a fatality, and half of all Christmas tree fires will spread beyond the room of origin.

The CPSC advises consumers to always place live Christmas trees away from heat sources and keep trees well watered. A dry tree can ignite within 10 seconds, but a tree that is watered daily will take considerably much more time to ignite when a heat source is present.

When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, the CPSC recommends consumers look for those labeled as being fire resistant.

The CPSC also warns holiday lights can be a potential hazard, with fires sparked by light sets causing 10 deaths last year.

To prevent such fires, the CPSC recommends examining new and old lights for damage. Throw away sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections. Make sure to only buy lights that indicate they have been tested by a safety laboratory.

In addition to fire risks from electric lights, the commission warned that candles caused over 6,500 fires in homes each year between 2010 and 2012, resulting in 80 deaths, 650 injuries, and $237 million in property loss.

The CPSC safety warning recommends placing candles away from items that can catch fire including, Christmas trees, decorations, furniture and curtains. Also be sure to keep candles in an area where children and pets can’t knock them over.

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