The holidays are a time for family traditions, food and fun! It’s also a time for stringing lights, trimming the tree and displaying festive holiday decorations. Unfortunately, ‘decking the halls’ can put you and your loved ones at risk if the proper precautions are not taken. A recent study found a seasonal spike in hospital emergency room visits as a result of holiday-related decorating injuries.
More than 15,000 people sustained holiday-related decorating injures that required a trip to the emergency room in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It is the fourth year in a row these numbers have increased. Falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights and decorations were some of the leading causes of injury. Christmas trees were also culprits, causing hundreds of fires each year, resulting in property damage, injury and death.
Keep in mind the following safety tips when decorating for the holidays this year.
- If purchasing an artificial tree, look for a label that reads, “Fire Resistant.”
- If purchasing a live tree, freshness is key. The tree should be green and the needles should be hard to pull from the branches when bent between your fingers. The needles should not easily break off. When tapped on the ground the tree should not lose many needles and its trunk should be sticky with resin.
- When setting up the tree in your home, keep it away from fireplaces and radiators (which can cause it to dry out quickly) and keep the tree stand full of water. Make sure the tree is out of the path of traffic and not blocking any doorways.
- Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized safety lab and indicate conformance with safety standards.
- Examine each strand of lights for any broken or cracked sockets and frayed wires. Discard damaged strands of lights.
- Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. If the tree is charged with electricity this can result in electrocution or fire.
- Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls and other supports to protect from wind damage. Always use insulated staples, not nails or tacks to hold strands in place. Your best option is to run the strings of lights through hooks, which you can find at hardware stores.
- Always turn off lights when leaving the house or going to bed. Lights could short out and cause a fire.
- For added electric-shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). These can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold and can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
- When decorating your tree, choose tinsel and plastic decorations, and metals that do not contain lead. Decorations that contain lead can be extremely hazardous if ingested by children.
- Never use lighted candles on the tree. Always use non-flammable holders and place candles out of reach from children and pets.
- If you have small children, avoid putting up decorations that are sharp or breakable. Avoid decorations that resemble candy or food, which can be tempting to children.
- When hanging lights and decorations, make sure your ladder is secure. Injuries from falls were the most common type of accidents, accounting for 34 percent of holiday-related decorating injuries and subsequent ER visits.
Holiday Decorating Can Be Fun, But Accidents Do Happen
At the Law Firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., we want you to stay safe while decorating for the holidays this year. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a holiday-related decorating injury, contact an experienced Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer immediately. Our experienced team of accident attorneys can help you obtain compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in greater detail.