Interior Home Safety

The Most Common Holiday Accidents—And How to Avoid Them

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—that is, until someone gets hurt. Avoid these common holiday accidents to keep your spirits bright (and safe).

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‘Tis the Season to Get Injured

Preparing big meals, decorating the Christmas tree, and traveling to see friends and family are all part of what make the holidays so special—and also so dangerous. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 200 people go to the emergency room every day during the holiday season, and many of their injuries are caused by otherwise festive and fun holiday activities like putting up Christmas lights and hanging decorations. Here are 10 of the most common holiday accidents and suggestions for protecting yourself from injury this season.

How Flammable Are Your Branches?

The Christmas tree may be the most admired holiday decoration, but it’s also the most flammable. Christmas tree fires are more common than you think, responsible for 150 injuries from 2014 to 2016. Protect yourself and your house by watering a real Christmas trees often and keeping an artificial tree far from a heat source.

Related: 12 Christmas Tree Decorating Fails

Swallowing Broken Glass

Shiny, colorful ornaments are more than just eye candy: To toddlers, those bright baubles can look like real candy that they just might try to eat. Keep a watchful eye on your little ones around the Christmas tree to avoid a heartbreaking trip to the hospital during the holidays.

Poisonous Plants

Although poinsettias have traditionally been thought of as the most poisonous holiday plant, it’s actually holly that you have to watch out for. When small children ingest holly, it can potentially cause extreme cases of vomiting: A 2012 study reported that a child vomited 40 times over six hours after eating some holly berries. Don’t bring these beautiful but poisonous plants into your home unless you know you can keep a constant eye on young adventurers—and even then, maybe go for evergreen boughs instead of sprigs of holly, just to be safe. 

Related: The 25 Most Dangerous Plants for Your Pet

Unattended Cooking

It’s inevitable that you’ll spend more time in the kitchen over the holidays, but don’t get distracted—cooking accidents are the number one cause of house fires. The amount of cooking-related injuries always grows at this time of year as people whip up their holiday treats. Turkey day is especially hazardous: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are 1,800 cooking fires on average during Thanksgiving each year.

Treacherous Turkey

Plan on frying your turkey instead of roasting it this year? Turkey frying generates a lot of grief for emergency workers and has been responsible for 218 fires or burn incidents over the last two decades. If you’re determined to fry, always do it outside, and to prevent scalding, don’t overfill the oil.

Fall La La La La

It’s pretty magical to drive around and admire all the pretty Christmas decorations, but this magic comes at a cost. Last year, the majority of holiday injuries were caused by falling while decorating, so be sure to use a sturdy ladder and always have an assistant nearby while you’re putting up lights and other exterior ornaments. 

Related: 3 Fixes for Tangled Christmas Lights

Food-Borne Illnesses

While you’re going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, that dish you’re bringing to her is cultivating bacteria that could give everyone food poisoning, a common occurrence this time of year. When you’re transporting goodies over the holidays, keep your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold. Otherwise, your celebration may turn out to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Car Accidents

Unless your family is visiting you, it’s likely that you’ll be traveling during the holidays and doing much of it by car, like millions of other Americans. With so many people on the road, there’s an unfortunate uptick in the number of car accidents at this time of year, with a large percentage of it due to impaired driving, according to the National Safety Council. When you’re making your way to grandma’s, be sure to buckle up, stay sober, and pay attention.

Related: 8 Easy Ways to Winter-Proof Your Car

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It turns out that having a white Christmas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: That picturesque snow and inconspicuous ice lead to slips and falls—and emergency room visits. Before family and friends come to call, de-ice your driveway and sidewalks to prevent injuries.

Unattended Candles

Whether you use them to light your menorah or suffuse a window with a welcoming warmth, there’s nothing quite like the cozy glow of candles. But according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, candles cause 12,000 fires a year, and the holidays are prime candle-lighting season. To use candles safely, never leave them unattended while lit, and keep them away from highly flammable items like curtains, Christmas trees, and furniture.

Related: 10 Things Your Local Fire Department Wishes You Knew