Holiday Hazard Statistics: Keeping Your Family Safe
It's the most wonderful time of the year! As we begin gearing up for the holidays by stringing lights and decorating trees, it's important to stay safe while decorating this holiday season. Yup, it may sound ridiculous, but The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a statement about holiday-related hazards that may shock you.
During last year's holiday season alone, in the US, there were approximately 14,700 decorating-related injuries that required ER visits (an average of 240 injuries per day during the decorating months of November and December), the most prevalent being falls, lacerations, and back sprains. Three deaths involving ladder falls were also reported.
Between 2012 and 2014, Christmas trees have been attributed to 100 fires, 10 deaths, 20 ER visits, and $15.7M in property loss. Candles have been attributed to 1200 fires, 10 deaths, 130 ER visits, and 42.2M in property loss.
“Safety should be part of all your decorating efforts,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle. “Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, keep lit candles away from flammable items, and use caution when standing on a ladder or a chair to hang decorations.”
The CPSC recommends following these procedures to ensure your family's safety this holiday season:
Trees and Decorations
1. Buying a live tree? Check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
2. Setting up a tree at home? Place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees, be sure to monitor water levels daily and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic and do not block doorways with the tree.
3. Buying an artificial tree? Look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
4. Decorating a tree in homes with small children? Avoid sharp or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of small children who could swallow or inhale small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to try to eat them.
1. Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before leaving the room.
2. Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface where children and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Place lit candles away from items that can catch fire such as trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.
1. Only use lights tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Lights for both indoor and outdoor usage must meet strict standards that testing laboratories are able to verify.
2. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets and do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.
3. Check each extension cord to make sure it is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.
4. Check outdoor lights for labels showing the lights have been certified for outdoor use and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
1. Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. Fire salts contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if swallowed. Keep them away from children.
2. Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
1. Have working smoke alarms on every floor of the home and in every bedroom. The early warning provided by smoke alarms saves lives.
2. Test your smoke alarms every month to make sure they are working properly.
3. Change batteries in smoke alarms every year.
Be sure to take measures to keep your family and home safe this holiday season. Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season!