The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but they can also be dangerous. In addition to temperatures dropping and roads and sidewalks being more likely to ice over, there’s also an increased risk of being injured in an auto accident due to an intoxicated driver. But one risk that people aren’t always aware of comes from the holiday decorations they put up in and around their homes.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that decorations are the top cause of injuries during the holidays. In December 2015, six people died and around 14,000 people suffered injuries directly from defective decorations or while putting them up in and on their homes.
While classic holiday films like Christmas Vacation may use holiday decoration-related mishaps and injuries for comedic effect, they’re no laughing matter for the people who suffer them. Thankfully, avoiding injuries is often as simple as knowing what to do—and what not to do—when putting up your decorations.
6 Holiday Décor Dos and Don’ts to Remember
Decorations are a major source of injuries during the holidays primarily because there’s a lot that can go wrong. From trips and falls to electrical shocks to house fires, there are potential injuries lurking in almost every holiday decoration you can think of.
To protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home while decorating this year, make sure you DO:
- Keep pets and children away from your Christmas tree—Christmas trees are the centerpiece for holiday decorations, but they’re also one of the most dangerous items you can bring into your home. In addition to anchoring your tree to keep it upright, it’s also important to keep it away from furniture and secure it with a gate to keep pets and small children away. Avoid using glass and small ornaments on your tree as well, as they can shatter or pose choking hazards.
- Maintain the freshness of any live tree you purchase—If you prefer a live tree over a synthetic tree, make sure it’s fresh and not dried out. To test, check its color and the hardiness of its needles. If the tree is green and its needles don’t easily fall out, it still contains plenty of moisture. Dried out trees aren’t just unsightly and more likely to shed needles, they’re also more likely to catch fire, as their lower moisture levels make them extremely flammable.
- Be careful when burning candles—The National Fire Protection Association says that 22 home candle fires were reported daily between 2013 and 2017, and candle-related fires peak in December. You don’t want to be one of the unlucky few who lose their homes to a candle fire. The greatest number of candle fires occur on Christmas and Christmas Eve. If candles are part of your holiday decorations, burn them sparingly and never in more than one room at a time. Keep them near you so you don’t forget to put them out, and never put them near flammable objects.
In addition to following those important steps, ensure that you:
- Don’t climb onto unstable ladders or step stools—Falls are a major source of holiday decoration-related injuries. They’re especially common and dangerous when homeowners use ladders, stepstools, chairs, and other boosts to reach high areas to hang lights, wreaths, and other décor. Always test ladders and stools before climbing onto them, and be sure to place them on surfaces that are sturdy and level.
- Don’t let cables and cords become a trip hazard—Christmas decorations often mean a jumble of wires and cords. Hiding them when they are indoors is usually an easier task, as Christmas trees and other decorations can be set up near electrical outlets. However, it can be more difficult to keep wires off walkways such as sidewalks, driveways, and even lawns when setting them up outdoors. Plan the path you’ll route your cables before hanging lights to connect them to power sources while making minimal contact with the ground.
- Don’t buy cheap or used lights—No holiday décor is complete without lights, both indoors on your Christmas tree and outdoors to highlight your home’s architectural flairs. It can be tempting to save money on lights—especially if you need a lot of them—but doing so can increase your risk of a fire hazard. Cheap or used lights may contain defects like exposed wiring or faulty covering, which can result in a dull appearance, burned out lights, or even a house fire.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve After an Injury
At Parrish DeVaughn, we love celebrating the holidays, but we also know that putting up holiday decorations can lead to some unexpected and painful injuries. If you or someone you love was injured this holiday season or any other time of year due to someone else’s negligence, we want to help you get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related expenses.
Our Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers have fought for the rights of injured victims throughout the state for many years, and we know what it takes to win. Contact us today—we’re ready to put our experience to work for your family.