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Tis the Season for Christmas Injuries


The holiday season is fast approaching. Many of us are putting in extra hours at the office so that we can take time off for a family vacation in the coming weeks. Gifts are being purchased and wrapped. Festive lights are being strung, and blow-up Santas and other Christmastime creatures welcome us into neighboring houses. Cookies are being baked and delivered, and children are bringing home colorful art projects and home-made Christmas tree ornaments. Amidst all the excitement, many of us may find ourselves distracted, leading to possible accidents or injuries.

Some holiday injuries are predictable. Every year, many string colorful lights along the eaves of their houses or weave them into their front-yard foliage. Unless you are unusually tall, this task involves the use of a ladder or stepping stool. In the past few years, doctors have seen an increase in the number of decoration-related injuries. People fall off ladders and roofs while trying to string lights. Some try to hang Christmas lights while drinking alcohol. According to NBC News, one man even fell while trying to decorate and use his walker on the roof. [1] According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of injuries sustained while decorating for the holidays rose from 12,000 in 2009 to 15,000 in 2012. [2] Injuries range from lacerations and back strains to broken hips and necks. [3]

While decorating can lead to predictable injuries, some holiday accidents are more surprising. Holiday parties center largely around eating and food preparation. Some hosts, who may cook rarely during the rest of the year, fancy themselves top chefs come December. Many individuals sustain cuts, grazes, burns, or scalds in the name of party preparation. [4] These injuries, while not life-threatening, can still range from unpleasant to disfiguring. Many cooking-related holiday injuries result in emergency room visits.

While falls and cooking injuries are common, there are countless other hazards over the holidays. People have been known to sustain head collisions, Christmas tree-related injuries, bike accidents, and even house-cleaning injuries on Christmas Day. Increased alcohol consumption on and around Christmas Day increases the risk of each of these accidents. Doctors even have a new term for alcohol-related injuries over the holidays: “DUI” – decorating under the influence. [5]

The CPSC estimated that there were roughly 1,700 Christmas Day injuries between 2011 and 2015, averaging 340 per year nationwide. While many injuries fell into the categories discussed above, there were some outliers. One 33-year-old man hurt himself after standing on a stool to hang Christmas lights when he fell backward and struck his head on a TV stand. A 44-year-old managed to hurt herself during a failed attempt to fit her Christmas tree into a garbage bin. A 30-year-old man was injured while attempting to trim his Christmas tree using a chainsaw. The list goes on and on. The majority of injuries accrued to young children, many of whom had swallowed small ornaments. Aside from children, the second-largest group of injured Christmas revelers was adults between the ages of 25 to 55. [6]

Although injuries on and around Christmas are common, they are largely predictable and preventable. In order to avoid injuries over the holidays, make sure to wipe up spills as soon as they occur and to clear away children’s toys and clutter. Run over-long power cords safely along the walls and keep them out of walkways, or tape them down as necessary. Keep indoor and outdoor spaces safely lit. [7] Be extremely cautious while hanging lights and other decorations. Limit your alcohol consumption, and avoid dangerous activities, like cooking or driving, when you’ve already had a few drinks.

If you are injured over the holidays, be sure to seek proper medical attention. If you suspect that a blow to the head has resulted in a concussion, visit your doctor to seek a diagnosis. [8] If you feel that you have been injured by a faulty product or that your accident was due to the negligence of another, contact a personal injury attorney to make sure you understand your rights.









Image Credit: Paul Labbe of the United States Air Force

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