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CPSC: ‘Tis the Season for Holiday Accidents


Tis’ the season for injuries?  The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates about 15,000 of us will be injured during the holiday season based on the number of folks seen in the nation’s emergency rooms last November and December. The worst of the injuries involved falls from holiday decorating, stepping on ornaments, back strains, ladder mishaps and lacerations.

It may sound humorous but every holiday season hundreds of people fall off ladders trying to decorate a tree or handling decorations. Ladders are supposed to be set up in good condition with a 75 degree angle. Never use a metal ladder near any electrical equipment. Never stand on the top three rungs of an extension, straight or single ladder. Often people die as a result of these incidents and last year there were 20 injuries, not to mention about $16 million in property damage.

And with all of the lights and candles during the season fire departments around the country in 2009 through 2011 reported about 200 Christmas trees were ignited. The fires resulted in 70 deaths, 680 injury reports to the CPSC with about $308 million in property damage.

The number of incidents has been on the rise every year since 2009 with about 12,000 more ER visits annually since then.

The CPSC has issued some guidance for this holiday season.

Consumers need to throw away any light sets with bare wires, broken sockets or that have been damaged. Obviously candles should not stay lit if no one is in the room. Make sure the ladder is in good repair.

A Christmas tree needs to be set up away from any heat sources.  A real tree will dry out quickly when a room is heated or if set where the sun is shining directly on it through a window so make sure it is kept watered.  Small children may be fascinated with holiday ornaments and may end up swallowing a small object or cutting themselves with a sharp object if no one is watching.

Some folks who like to sit around a fire choose to add fire salts that produce a colored flame. Keep them away from small children. Swallowing fire salts can cause severe gastrointestinal problems.

Also keep wrapping paper out of the fireplace because it has a tendency to ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Problems with consumer products that result in accidents should always be reported to That is the only way the government can track injuries resulting from a defective product and it often elicits a request to recall the product almost immediately after a number of injures have been received.

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