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Injuries Linked to Holiday Decorating on the Rise
Date:12/14/2011

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Decking the halls (and elsewhere) for the holidays may be getting more dangerous, a new government report finds.

In November and December 2010, more than 13,000 people were treated in U.S. emergency departments for injuries involving holiday decorations, up from 10,000 in 2007, and 12,000 in 2008 and 2009, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

"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 CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum in an agency news release.

While deaths and injuries caused by Christmas tree and candle fires have fallen, there are still a high number of decorating-linked incidents overall. Between 2006 and 2008, Christmas tree-related fires caused an annual average of four deaths and $18 million in property damage a year. And in the same time period there were a total of about 130 deaths and $360 million in property damage due to fires caused by candles.

The CPSC, along with UL (Underwriters Laboratories), which helped craft the report, offered a number of holiday safety tips:

  • If you buy a live tree, check it for freshness to help lower the odds of fire. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches and its needles don't break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin and the tree shouldn't lose many needles when it's tapped on the ground. Keep the tree well-watered and away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and vents.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, look for the label "fire resistant." While this does not mean the tree cannot catch fire, it is more resistant to catching fire.
  • When decorating the tree with small children, don't use sharp, weighted or breakable decorations. Don't use trimming
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