Everyone enjoys the festive lights on homes here in Orange County. However, at this time of the year, falls from ladders and rooftops increase significantly at local OC hospital ER rooms. During November and December of each year, about 12,800 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms as a result of falls, cuts, shocks and burns related to holiday decorating. The most serious personal injuries come from falling off roves while putting up or taking down the lights.
One man that wasn’t so lucky was from Aliso Viejo here in Orange County. Christopher Shifter, went up to hang his Christmas lights and lost his footing and fell 25 feet down to the bushes below. He later died at the Mission Hospital from a traumatic head injury. Fortunately, most accidents don’t end so tragically, but depending on your age and health, any fall can be potentially serious. If you still want the beautiful lights on your home, consider one of the growing professionals who install Christmas lights for you. The prices usually range from $3-400 dollars, but it might be worth it.
The second major hazards during the Holiday Season are house fires. Besides falls, other holiday injuries can result from household fires due to numerous causes. Dry Christmas trees, candles, unattended cooking, fireplaces and wood stoves all can contribute to holiday’s fires.
CPSC estimates there are more than 14,000 candle-related fires each year, which result in about 170 deaths and $350 million in property loss. Dried-out Christmas trees are involved in about 200 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, and about $10 million in property damage.
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree is more resistant to burning. When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. It is easy to leave the stove “just for a moment” to answer the door or attend to a holiday guest. Try to always turn off the range each time you leave the kitchen and keep a fire extinguisher within reach at all times.
As temperatures fall this time of the year, residents all over Orange County bundle up in their homes and use fireplaces for more than decorative accents. However, if you haven’t used the fireplace in awhile, make sure to have your chimney flutes inspected and cleaned by a professional. In addition, check the damper to be sure it is open before lighting your fire. Lastly, always have a screen to prevent hand burns and flying ash.
For a full list of safety tips, you can download a free brochure with holiday decorating safety tips at CPSC’s web site www.cpsc.gov/