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picture of a decorated Christmas tree next to a fireplace with garland on the mantel

Deck the Halls Safely

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It’s that time of year again – the time to decorate, celebrate, and … injure yourself? If you’re starting to decorate for the upcoming holiday season, we’ve got some safety tips for you to keep in mind as you start to deck the halls.

picture of a decorated Christmas tree next to a fireplace with garland on the mantel

Every year in November and December, there are approximately 12,000-15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating that require emergency room visits. The most frequently reported holiday injuries include falls, lacerations, and back strains.

Falls

Falls often occur from a ladder while hanging lights or decorations or by tripping over cords or decorations. Here’s a few tips about ladder safety:

  • Read and follow safety directions on ladders.
  • Don’t stand on the top 3 rungs of a ladder.
  • If using an extension ladder, have the ladder at a 75 degree angle: stand up straight with your feet touching the bottom rungs of the ladder as it leans away from you. Extend your arms in front of you – your palms should touch the top of the rung that’s at shoulder level.
  • Use a ladder that extends at least 3 feet above the roofline or working surface.
  • Place your ladder on level and firm ground. Use leg levelers (devices that can be purchased at a hardware or home improvement store) under the ladder to level uneven or soft ground.
  • Put ladders away immediately after use. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.

You can prevent falls caused by tripping over cords or lights by doing the following:

  • Place the cord or lights out of the way of foot traffic.
  • Run the cord along a wall.
  • Tape the cord to the floor with a strong tape, such as duct tape (this may leave a sticky residue on the cord).
  • Have a brightly colored cord, reflective strips, or brightly colored tape over the cord, so people see the cord and can avoid it.
  • As a last resort, use a cord cover. It will protect the cords and prevent tripping.

Better yet, minize the exposure to cords and strings of lights – redesign your lights or decorations to take the safest route for the cords, not just the shortest route.

Other Injuries

Other common injuries involving holiday decorations include lacerations and back strains. The following are some tips to avoid lacerations this holiday season:

  • Avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations and ornaments.
  • When picking up broken glass from a damaged ornament or light, use a broom and dustpan rather than your hands.
  • If cutting your own Christmas tree, take great care and aim the blade away from you.
  • Do not use sharp objects to open packaging.

To avoid back strain, refrain from lifting heavy objects such as boxes of decorations or Christmas trees. Bend at the knees when lifting and have assistance from others when lifting large or heavy objects.

Whether you’re hanging up outdoor lights or adorning your halls with garland, stay safe and avoid the top holiday decorating injuries – falls, lacerations, and back strains. And before you head out to get all your gifts, make sure to check out our 5 Tips for Safer Holiday Shopping. No matter how you celebrate and decorate, we hope you have a happy and safe holiday season!

Sources: CPSC News Release – Dec. 5, 2013CPSC Ladder Safety 101CPSC News Release – Dec. 5, 2012Consumer Affairs – How to Avoid Holiday Mishaps