While the holidays are meant to be a joyful time spent with friends and family, it is sad to learn how many people are killed decorating for Christmas. According to the Product Safety Commission, 11,000 people end up in the emergency room every Christmas due to decorating injuries, which include broken bones, cuts and burns. One hundred or more fires start every holiday because of faulty wiring or overloaded circuits. Ultimately, almost sixteen deaths per year are attributed to holiday decorating attempts gone awry.
In the classic Christmas movie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", Clark W. Griswold narrowly escaped death and serious injury many times over as he attempted to decorate the family home. In reality, the amount of lights Clark used to blanket the house would put his family in serious danger of starting a blazing inferno. Most of the deaths in the holiday season occur due to homes catching on fire. These fires often begin by a short in the wiring to the lights or by plugging too many cords into the outlets. In addition, some fires also begin by leaving burning holiday candles unattended. It is best to inspect all wiring on lights for defects and throw away any that could be potentially hazardous. It's much easier and cheaper to replace damage to Christmas lights caused by decorating for Christmas, than to replace an entire home or family.
Once the lights have been inspected, the hard part of decorating for Christmas begins. The lights have to be hung, usually at incredible heights. Falls from ladders caused by decorating for Christmas is attributed to many of those deaths as well. While Mr. Griswold was able to hang off the gutters to keep from breaking his neck, many are not so lucky. Take precautions before hanging lights off the roof or other high places. Place the ladder on a secure and sturdy surface and if climbing the roof, attach a harness in case of an unintentional slip and fall.
Pet owners should also take heed of the potential hazards that holiday decorations pose to their pets. Many pet deaths occur when dogs or cats try to eat shiny ribbons and tinsel around the tree. These objects can cause severe damage to the linings of the pet’s stomach, usually resulting in death. Also, certain holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoes may beautify your home, but can cause internal problems with your pet if ingested. While not often life threatening, they can make the pet ill and possibly cause death if the pet has other health problems. The best advice to avoid these hazards is to keep any Christmas decorations out of the pet's reach, or just avoid them altogether.
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