Skip to main content

Boreal Emergency Preparedness Portal

Use safety pre-cautions with holiday decorations

Dec 18, 2019 10:02AM ● By Editor
By Patrick Allan of - Posted:  December 18, 2019

It’s the most dangerous time of the year. With kids cutting fingers, dads falling off ladders, and you slipping onto your rear. It’s that hap-haphazardly season of all. Here are some tips for making it through the holidays unscathed.

Avoid Falling While Hanging Christmas Lights and Decorations

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC,) decorations are the top cause of injury during the holidays. There were six fatalities and an estimated 14,000 hospital-treated injuries due to holiday decorations in December 2015 alone. That’s a lot of people hurting themselves trying to show some holiday cheer.

Most of these injuries are due to falls, which Dr. Shawn Evans tells CNN is one of the most common reasons people are hospitalized this time of year. And you don’t need to fall far to injure yourself. It only takes a few feet to get a concussion, break a bone, or tweak your back. To avoid injury:

  • Don’t drink and decorate: Lay off the eggnog and save it for after the decorating. Many decorating injuries involve alcohol.
  • Don’t decorate alone: If something does happen, you want someone to be around to help you or call for help. Same goes for others—don’t let your family decorate alone. Offer to help out, especially if they’re elderly.
  • Check your ladder before you use it: Make sure none of the rungs are broken and that you don’t exceed the recommended weight limit. Also make sure the rungs are dry before you climb.
  • Set your ladder up properly: Place the ladder on solid, even ground. Use the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height you have to climb, move the base one foot away from the wall. And have someone hold it steady for you.
  • Keep kids safe on the ground: Kids will want to help you decorate, but they’re better off handing you tools or holding the ladder.

You may have already hung up most of your lights and decorations around the house, but these dangers are just as present when you go to take them down. So don’t disregard these tips after all the fun stuff has already happened.

Keep Decorations and Candles From Starting Fires

According to the CPSC, over 400 fires, 10 deaths, 20 injuries, and $17 million in property damage occurred between 2010 and 2012 due to Christmas trees igniting. And candles cause around 6,500 residential fires annually, and account for about 80 deaths, 650 injuries, and $237 million in property damage every year. Needless to say, fire safety needs to be taken every seriously around the holidays.

If you don’t want your family roasting on an open fire, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Buy safe lights: The lights you use should bear the marking of a safety testing laboratory. LEDs are a great choice as they’re energy efficient and run cooler.
  • Check lights for damage before use: Discard sets that have any exposed or frayed wires, cracked or broken bulbs, or any other damage. 
  • Burn candles safely: Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where they can be knocked over by kids or pets. Also, make sure candles aren’t placed near anything that can catch fire, like decorations, curtains, furniture, or Christmas trees. The video above will show you why.
  • Consider an artificial tree: An artificial Christmas tree is less likely to act as kindling in your living room. Look for one with a “fire resistant” label. 

Regardless of what kind of tree you go with, keep it away from heat sources. And if you do decide on having a real tree, the National Fire Protection Association recommends you check for freshness before you buy. It should be green, not brown, and needles and branches shouldn’t break easily when you bend them.

Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 182 days.