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Safety tips for a happy holiday season

Thousands are rushed to the ER with holiday decorating-related injuries each year. Here are some safety tips for the holiday season.

November 16, 2023

Are stitches, crutches and broken bones on your wish list this holiday season? Probably not. And yet, The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that, on average, there are 160 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season and 14,700 people were treated for holiday decorating-related injuries in emergency rooms (ERs) and freestanding ERs (FSERs) in 2019.

We don’t want you to be a statistic. That’s why we’ve provided these guidelines for a safe holiday season. From ladder safety tips to fire prevention — we’ve got you covered on how to keep things merry, bright and safe this year.

How to hang decorations safely

Out of the thousands of holiday decorating-related ER cases that occurred in 2019, about 41% of them were related to falls. It’s common for people to fall off ladders, roofs or furniture as they attempt to hang up decorations this time of year.

To save you some grief and a trip to the ER, here are some general tips to hang decorations safely:

  • Don’t stand on furniture to hang indoor decorations.
  • Consider hiring a professional or at least asking another adult to help with rooftop decorations.
  • Use the right ladder for the job.

Here are some ladder safety tips:

  • Place the ladder on secure and level ground before stepping on it.
  • Position the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of length.
  • Clear the area around the top and bottom of the ladder.
  • Stay centered on the rungs of the ladder and keep both feet on the ladder at all times.
  • If you need to reach something to the right or left, move the ladder.
  • Never stand on the top two rungs of the ladder.
  • To reach a roof, extend the ladder at least three feet above the roof’s edge.
  • When using a stepladder, make sure it’s locked open securely and never use a folding stepladder when it’s closed.
  • Use the buddy system when climbing a ladder. Have an adult at the bottom of the ladder holding it steady when someone is on it.

Fire prevention tips for the holidays

After fall-related injuries, other sources of holiday ER visits include sustained cuts and gashes, strained backs and burns from Christmas tree decorations and candle-related fires.

Here are some fire prevention tips to keep you safe this holiday season:

  • Use your common sense and put safety first — no shortcuts!
  • Pick a fresh tree and keep it watered and away from heat sources.
  • Make sure lights and cords are in good condition.
  • Avoid sharp or breakable decorations in homes with small children.
  • Keep candles in sight and away from kids and pets.
  • Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace.

The holidays can be a magical time spent with family, but remember to put safety first to protect yourself and your loved ones. This can also be a great time to teach your kids about holiday safety. After all, they learn by watching what you do, so what better reason to keep it safe this season?

If, despite your best efforts, you do need emergency medical care, we’ve got you covered. HCA Virginia Health System is home to 14 hospital ERs and 6 FSERs.

This blog was originally published on HCA Midwest website in 2021. It was updated for the HCA Virginia website in 2023.

November 16, 2023

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