Whether you just plan to wrap a few lights around the trees in your front yard or you’re installing enough holiday sparkle to keep the neighbors awake at night, avoid injuries emergency room doctors already all know too well: Christmas decorations can be a major cause of injury during the holidays. Most of these injuries are due to falls, which Dr. Shawn Evans tells CNN is one of the most common reasons people are hospitalised 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. A study published in the journal Injury found that, in the worst cases, falls while installing Christmas lights can be life-altering, leaving individuals with traumatic brain injuries and the inability to live independently. These falls can even be deadly.
“About 200 people a day suffer decoration-related injuries this time of year,” says Patty Davis, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a governmental agency that seeks to safeguard people from consumer-product related risks. In November and December of last year, an estimated 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms around the country for injuries tied to holiday lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations, according to the CPSC.
Here’s how to avoid injury while hanging Christmas lights:
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.
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