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Deck the Halls…But Be Careful

It’s that time of year already. Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror. Shops and malls are bustling with Christmas cheer. Holiday music is in stores and elevators. Many of us are pulling out lights and decorations from storage and getting ready to get in the Christmas spirit. Whether you plan to just sprinkle a few twinkling lights in your lawn or go all out, it is important during this time to think about what ER doctors nationwide know all too well – installing holiday lights can be injurious and even deadly.

Potential for Severe Injuries

Doctors say they see a mix of different injuries relating to holiday decorating. One of the most common types of injuries are those caused by people falling off ladders. This can be particularly worrisome for older victims because their injuries tend to be much more severe than those sustained by younger people. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that about 200 people a day suffer decoration-related injuries during this time of the year.

In November and December of 2014, about 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms nationwide for injuries linked to holiday lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations. A study published September in the journal Inquiry found that injuries sustained while installing decorations can be life-altering, leaving individuals with injuries such as brain trauma. In some cases, the falls can even be deadly. The study further states that 5 percent of patients died and many others required critical care. Beyond the simple bumps and bruises, victims suffered broken bones, head and spinal cord injuries as well as internal bleeding including from the liver, spleen and pelvis.

Exercising Care and Caution

How can you ensure that your holiday season is not spent in the hospital, or worse? There are several steps you can take:

• Hire someone to help you, if you can afford it. This is particularly true if you are planning an extravagant display. If that’s the case, get a pro to do it. It could save you a lot of trouble.
• Know your physical abilities and limitations. If you have balance issues or are taking blood thinners, avoid climbing ladders.
• Pay attention to the weather. If it is windy or snowing or raining, don’t take a chance. Wait until the weather clears.
• Make sure you have a firm footing. Choose a ladder that is strong enough for the job and make sure it is placed on a level surface.
• If you are doing it on your own, have a helper by your side who can hold the ladder or hand you things.
• Be careful when you are removing the decorations after the holidays as well.

We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

<image credit http://southwestfrancewines.com>

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