The Top 5 Holiday Injuries and How to Avoid Them

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time of celebration, but unfortunately, they may also be a time of accidents and injuries. The tips below can help keep you and your family stay safe this year.

Holiday Accidents Can Be Serious and Deadly

First, a quick note about holiday safety. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), cooking, decorating, and playing with toys over the holiday season can all cause serious injuries and even death. Cooking fires, for instance, are the number-one cause of residential fires, with 220 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers resulting in 81 injuries over the past two decades.

On average, there are also about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with about half of the incidents involving falls. In the 2018 holiday season, about 17,500 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries, and in 2019, there were six deaths associated with decorations.

Toys are often a source of injuries for children. In 2019, there were an estimated 162,700 toy-related emergency department-treated injuries and 14 deaths to children younger than 15, with most caused by choking on small parts.

The Most Dangerous Holiday Injuries

Below is a list of some of the most dangerous injuries that commonly occur during the holiday season, along with some tips to help you avoid them.

1. Driving Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that generally, there are more motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities during holiday periods than during non-holiday periods due to increased travel time, more alcohol use, and faster driving speeds. Drivers, bikers, and pedestrians are all more vulnerable during this time.

Stay Safe: Reduce your driving speeds when the weather is bad. Stay aware of the road and other drivers, and make sure your tires are sufficient for winter conditions. When walking, stick to designated walkways and crosswalks and don’t walk distracted.

2. Back Injuries

Whether from carrying heavy items or shoveling snow, back injuries tend to increase around the holidays. If you’re traveling, you may also hurt your back by carrying around heavy luggage.

Stay Safe: Always use your legs rather than your back to lift things, and don’t overdo it. When traveling, pack as light as you can, and ship the rest. If you have to shovel the walk, take your time and lift smaller loads of snow. You may also want to consider getting a snow-blower or hiring help with snow clearance.

3. Fires and Burns

As noted above, holiday cooking and serving can lead to burns if you’re not careful. Holiday lights and Christmas trees are also a frequent source of fire injuries, as are burning candles.

Stay Safe: Never leave your cooking unattended. Make sure you follow all directions carefully when using appliances like turkey fryers. Have a fire extinguisher on-hand and plenty of oven mitts.

Always blow-out candles before you leave the house and keep them away from flammable materials. To avoid the risk of tree-related fires, avoid placing your tree near a fireplace or furnace. Also, be careful that you’re not overloading your electrical circuits with the lights, or using old or damaged wires.

4. Falls

Putting up those decorations around the outside of the house can be dangerous. So too can walking on icy sidewalks.

Stay Safe: Keep your sidewalks clear of ice and snow by shoveling regularly and using an ice-melting substance when needed. Always check your ladder for broken hinges and rungs and loose screws before using it. Wear proper footwear that will give you a good grip, and make sure the steps are free of ice or anything that could cause you to slip. Place your ladder on a stable surface and always have someone nearby while you’re using it.

5. Choking

It’s common during the holiday for kids to leave toys around on the floor where little ones may get ahold of small parts that can lead to choking.

Stay Safe: Instruct older kids to play with their toys out of reach of toddlers. Check carefully any toys that your toddler plays with to be sure there are no small parts she could choke on. When necessary (such as on Christmas morning when older kids are tearing open their presents), place your toddler in a playpen or enclosed area where she will be safe from possible choking hazards.