A Proven Need for Holiday Safety

December 08, 2015

Who (besides Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) would ever think that decorating for the holidays would result in sending thousands of people to the emergency room? Various studies have estimated that between 5,800 and 13,000 people have a non-fatal injury every holiday season. Most of the injuries result from falls off ladders and are more common among men. Tripping over electrical cords is another leading cause of injury during the holiday season.  

December, January and February are peak months for home fires. The major causes of home fires are from cooking, especially if unattended, followed by unsafe heating devices, open flames (such as candles), Christmas trees and other holiday decorations (such as lighting.) In fact, December is the peak time for fires from candles. (Data sources: National Fire Protection Association and the Electrical Safety Foundation International.)

People do not think that such injuries or incidents will happen to them. If they were predictable, people would take actions to avoid them. However, these injuries and incidents (like fires) are preventable but require following safe practices and using common sense. For example, most strings of lights give instructions about safe use. It will say, plug in no more than three strings. But how many people have added that fourth or fifth string despite what the directions say? Or how many people read actually read the directions?

 We are busy people.  During the holiday season, we often have a very long “to do” list. But rushing a job to get it done should not mean taking shortcuts that circumvent safety. Don’t do something in a manner in which you know isn’t the correct way to do it.  (Then you won’t have to say “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”)  In addition to staying injury-free from decorating activities, keep the following messages in mind to make sure your family has a safe holiday season.  

If you give sporting equipment such as skateboards, skates or bicycles for holiday presents be sure to add the proper protective gear.  Emergency rooms report an increase in fractures within the few days following the holiday due to spills, falls and collisions. 

Candles, while beautifully casting a warm glow, can be very dangerous any time of the year.  Frequently they are placed near greens that become quite flammable as they dry out.  The holidays can present some special risks for children. Emergency rooms often see children for holiday-related injuries like aspirated pine needles, little ornaments or artificial snow.  Poisoning can be a big problem, too.  Many holiday plants and berries are poisonous (to your pets also.)  Alcohol poisoning can also occur if little ones get their hands on glasses with small amounts of leftover drinks.  For more information on this topic, District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call QVHD, 248-4528 or request by email, dculligan@qvhd.org