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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the number of ER visits spikes around the holidays, with about 250 holiday decorating-related injuries per day.

According to medical experts at the Level II Trauma Center at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, many of these injuries can be prevented.

  • Avoid fires. Do not overload electrical sockets, as this could easily spark a fire. Also, remember to blow out all candles and turn off decorative lights when going to bed or leaving the house. Make sure that all space heaters and fireplaces are free from clutter or decorative items that may ignite. Keep live Christmas trees watered to avoid over drying, and dispose of them properly once the holiday season is over.
  • Plan for safe travel. Monitor your alcohol intake during holiday festivities. Don’t drink and drive, and do not let someone else drink and drive. Additionally, keep an eye on the weather, and do not travel if there are dangerous road conditions. Allow extra time for travel in order to accommodate for additional holiday traffic or other road delays.
  • Choose appropriate holiday toys. Toys with small parts should not be given to children under three years of age. Infant toys, such as rattles and squeeze toys should be large enough that they cannot enter or become lodged in a baby’s throat.
  • Eliminate potential household dangers for children and pets. Be aware of potential dangers to children and pets while visiting homes over the holidays. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks and household items, as well as possible choking hazards (including coins and hard candy), out of reach.
  • Decorate safely. If you have to climb into your attic to retrieve holiday decorations, make sure the surfaces you step on are stable and can hold your weight. When hanging decorations outside, always be sure to have someone hold the ladder to “spot” you.

Using a little common sense—and taking a few extra precautions—can go a long way in ensuring a safe holiday season.

-Sheila Dolbow, BSN, RN, trauma coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center

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