Each year, thousands of people sustain Christmas injuries while putting up Christmas trees and holiday decorations, climbing ladders to install outdoor lights, cooking holiday meals, and taking decorations down after Christmas.
The 12 Mishaps of Christmas
Christmas typically means spending time with family and friends, decorating the Christmas tree, installing decorations and lights, wrapping presents, and enjoying a holiday meal. However, for some people, Christmas turns into a trip to the hospital emergency room to treat serious injuries.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 134,281 people visited local hospitals for Christmas accidents and injuries between 2008 and 2017. Over half of 14,126 injuries in 2017 were related to putting up or taking down Christmas decorations. The 12 most common Christmas mishaps include:
1. Decorations and Ornaments
Decorating for the holidays is a leading cause of Christmas injuries seen by Henderson’s best accident attorneys. Falls from rooftops, outdoor ladders, step stools, and unstable chairs while decorating for Christmas results in bruises, abrasions, facial lacerations, fractured and broken bones, back and neck injuries, and head trauma.
2. Holiday Lights
Putting up holiday lights accounts for falls, cuts from broken glass, burns, and electric shocks. One in 40 people suffer electrical shock due to badly wired Christmas lights, overloaded sockets, and extension cords. For safety, holiday lighting should always be unplugged at night or when watering the Christmas tree.
3. House Fires
Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 160 house fires that start with Christmas trees. About 50% involve faulty lighting or electrical equipment, while 25% involve a heating source or candles placed too close to the tree. Christmas tree fires cause an average of 14 injuries, two deaths, and $10 million in property damages every year in December and January.
4. Chimney Fires
Christmas is the perfect time for a roaring fire in the fireplace to keep everyone warm and provide a holiday atmosphere. Before Christmas arrives, it’s important to have the fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional to prevent chimney fires that can spread to the rest of the house very quickly.
5. Holiday Cooking
During the Christmas holidays, the kitchen can be a dangerous place due to boiling water, hot food, sharp knives, and too much activity in the kitchen. Cooking fires on stoves and grills, skin burns from hot oil, and lacerations from chopping and preparing food put many people in the hospital. One in ten children suffers serious injuries related to Christmas cooking mishaps.
6. Food Poisoning
Food poisoning during the holidays puts many people in the hospital each year. The National Health Service has strict safety recommendations about cooking a turkey safely. Undercooked turkey accounts for a high percentage of food poisoning cases every Christmas where people fall ill with salmonella poisoning, often a life-threatening injury for small children and frail, sick, or elderly adults.
Christmas festivities like office parties and family gatherings commonly include alcohol to celebrate the occasion. The holiday period between Christmas and New Year’s accounts for a high rate of drunk driving accidents in Nevada. The best accident lawyers have seen a significant rise in traffic injuries and fatalities during the holidays.
8. Christmas Presents
Many Christmas presents and holiday decorations pose choking hazards for small children and pets. Novelty decorations such as stuffed reindeer, snowmen, elves, and Santas are not required to comply with toy safety standards. Stuffed toys or animals, fun gadgets, and novelty gifts should be kept away from small children.
9. Children’s Toys
Defective toys and toys with small parts that can be choking hazards can injure children. Parents should avoid buying toys from holiday pop-up shops or outdoor markets, because toys may be illegally imported without strict U.S. safety guidelines. The best accident attorneys in Henderson often see children injured by toys that are not age-appropriate.
10. Holiday Plants
Holiday house plants like Mistletoe, Holly, Christmas Cherry, and the Christmas Rose may seem festive, but they are highly poisonous. Their berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and cause hallucinations, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Poisonous holiday plants should be avoided in homes with children and pets.
11. Corrosive Batteries
Button batteries found in Christmas novelty items, musical holiday cards, children’s toys, and books, gadgets, and remote controls pose serious injury risks to children. Button batteries release corrosive acid that burns the intestines and causes internal bleeding. If a child or pet swallows a button battery, emergency medical treatment is essential. Lithium batteries can cause death within hours.
12. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In many parts of the country, Christmas brings cold weather with snow and ice. Homes without central heat or furnaces often rely on space heaters, ovens, and gas appliances which release carbon monoxide into the air. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur within two hours in an enclosed environment.