Holiday Decorating Injuries Rising

By JENNIFER C. KERR | December 15, 2011

‘Tis the season for dancing sugarplums, goodwill toward all – and sometimes emergency-room trips for holiday decorating injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday that injuries involving falls from ladders while stringing lights, cuts from broken glass ornaments and other decorating activities are on the rise.

The government estimates that more than 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for such injuries during November and December of last year. That’s up from 10,000 in 2007 and 12,000 in 2008 and 2009.

CPSC also reminded people that those twinkling Christmas trees can erupt into flames in a matter of seconds if they come in contact with an open flame.

Christmas tree fires were blamed for about four deaths each year and $18 million in property damage between 2006 and 2008, according to the commission.

“A well-watered tree, carefully placed candles, and carefully checked holiday light sets will help prevent the joy of the holidays from turning into a trip to the emergency room or the loss of your home,” said Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Some other safe holiday tips:

-Make sure you have a fresh, green tree when buying a live one, with needles that are hard to pull from the branches.

-When buying an artificial tree, look for a “fire resistant” label.

-Only buy lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory, such as UL. Check those lights to see if there are any broken or cracked sockets or frayed wires.

-Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. It could cause a flash fire.

A recent report from the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Mass., said fire departments across the country responded to about 240 home fires each year between 2005 and 2009 that began with Christmas trees. Electrical failures and trees too close to a heat source accounted for the bulk of the fires, followed by decorative lights and candles.

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