Holiday Decorating Can Land You in the ER
Take Care to Avoid Falls While Decorating, Says CDC
Dec. 9, 2004 -- About 5,800 people spend part of their winter holidays in emergency rooms, tending to fall-related injuries sustained while decorating. So says the CDC, based on data from the 2000-2002 winter holidays.
According to their estimates, two to three people every hour were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries sustained while decorating during each of the 2000, 2001, and 2002 holiday seasons.
Most of those spills (62%) were taken by people aged 20-49. However, young people usually avoid falls during the rest of the year, accounting for only a third of yearly fall-related injuries.
Men were 40% more likely than women to be injured in holiday decorating falls. For both sexes, fractures were the most common injuries.
Most injuries (43%) happened when people tumbled off ladders while decorating. Fewer people fell off roofs (13%), furniture (11%), or stairs (3%). More people may have been injured but didn't go to an emergency room.
That doesn't make holiday decorating dangerous. Decorating-related injuries represent less than 1% of the nearly 2 million injuries from falls that occur each holiday season, says the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Just take sensible precautions.
For instance, if you need to gain a little height to place ornaments on a Christmas tree, don't try to balance on a chair or other piece of furniture. A step stool is a better option. It's also wise to notice possible hazards, such as slipping on tree skirts.
Since ladders account for most fall-related decorating injuries, the CDC offers these ladder safety tips:
- Make sure ladders are on secure, level ground before climbing.
- Space the ladder's base 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet it extends up.
- Stay centered between the ladder's rails. Don't overreach to the side, instead move the ladder.
- Don't stand on the ladder's top two rungs.
- To reach a roof, extend the ladder at least 3 feet beyond the roof's edge.
- Keep the area clear around the top and bottom of the ladder.
- Ensure step ladders are locked open securely.
- Never use a folding step ladder when it's closed.