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Holiday Hazards

holiday injury hazards

If you're not into repeatedly streaming Christmas music or leaving the Hallmark Channel’s holiday movies on in the background, there are two more ways you can incorporate the holiday spirit: food and decorations.

However, these things can come with some risks. Beyond being prepared for dangerous events that occur more often during the holiday season, you might also want to prepare for the everyday items you may include in your holiday celebrations. If you're not worried about burning yourself on the stove or getting a paper cut while opening presents, you might not realize how many people spend their holidays in the ER rather than with friends and family. To learn more, we analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) regarding holiday-related emergency room visits and injuries sustained by household items. Curious how many people have gotten burned by a menorah or injured while wrapping gifts? Read on to find out.

Hot Kitchen

Holiday Kitchen Injuries

’Tis the season for ... kitchen-related injuries? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving isn’t the only holiday when you have to fear the kitchen: Christmas and Christmas Eve also ranked as the most dangerous days for home cooking fires in 2013.

According to our research, the main source of kitchen-related ER visits around the holiday season has been owed to broilers. In fact, burns on people’s hands and arms can be a common occurrence. Experts suggest that people don’t even necessarily have to directly touch a hot object or an open flame to get burned, as loose-fitting clothing can occasionally be a hazard in the kitchen.

Kitchen gadget mishaps also ranked as a common reason why Americans spent the holidays in the ER instead of watching classic reruns or football games from the comfort of their homes, followed by electric range ovens and gas stoves.

Decking the Halls

holiday decorating related injuries

Perhaps no holiday memories are quite as strong as the ones we make decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, or merely spending time with loved ones engaged in family traditions. Nearly 4 in 5 households will put up some form of Christmas tree this season; in fact, live Christmas tree spending topped $1.3 billion in 2015. If that figure doesn’t make you wary, consider this: Holiday ornamentation has been the leading cause of decorating-related hospital visits and injuries for at least the last decade.

With a 74-year-old man having four drinks before setting up his tree, falling over, and suffering a head contusion, and a 2-year-old child sticking a piece of Christmas ornament in her nose, it’s no wonder this time of year is a little risky, based on narratives from the emergency room.

Dangers from artificial Christmas trees have also been on the rise in recent years, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled some pre-lit trees as fire hazards or a response to electrical shocks. If you decide to invest in an artificial tree, make sure your tree is positioned in a well-ventilated area and is away from other parts of your home that may catch fire more quickly in the event of an emergency.

Unpleasant Presents

holiday gift injuries

If you haven’t managed to burn yourself preparing a family feast or fallen off your ladder stringing Christmas lights already, you could just end up in the ER after opening gifts.

Whether you’re wrapping or unwrapping the gifts, if you’re using a sharp object to get the job done, you could be putting yourself at risk. According to one ER report, a 27-year-old woman once tried to cut through toy packaging with a steak knife and stabbed her thigh instead. Even wrapping paper can have its perils. According to another report, a 30-year-old man once checked into the ER after he scratched his eye with wrapping paper.

And while some gifts keep on giving, others can land you in the emergency room instead of a leisurely afternoon watching holiday specials on TV. We found at least one instance of gifted body wash causing a rash and ending in a hospital visit and another of a 5-year-old girl having pain and redness after getting new earrings.

Slipping Into the Holidays

holiday injuries by age

There have been nearly 845,000 holiday-related injuries during the week of Christmas since 2006, and a dangerous fall or painful incident with a sharp object can happen to just about anyone.

According to our research of NEISS data over the last decade, Americans 65 and older were the most likely to injure themselves during the week of Christmas. As the cold weather settles in and snow or ice becomes serious concerns in many parts of the country, wet surfaces can increase the chances of a person slipping and falling. Our study found over 3,600 injuries sustained during the holidays in this age group.

Painful Memories

types of holiday injuries

Head injuries have been the most common concern since 2006 during the days surrounding Christmas, and that’s nothing to be merry about. Even a minor head injury could cause painful headaches, confusion, or nausea, and more serious trauma can cause memory loss, seizures, or even hemorrhaging. Because these injuries can be severe, you should seek medical attention immediately if you’ve hurt your head.

Using sharp objects to wrap or unwrap gifts or even to create winter wonderlands with lights and decorations can be dangerous – over 745,000 injuries over the holidays have been lacerations. Even though the holiday season can be exciting, taking care while opening presents can reduce the risk of injury, and keeping weighted or breakable decorations out of the hands of small children can avoid painful cuts or lesions.

Staying Safe This Holiday Season

Whether it’s a game of dreidel or a personal playlist of carols and Christmas tunes, you might want to keep an eye out for the festive factors that could pose a potential threat this year. From kitchen disasters to decorative accidents, even wrapping or unwrapping gifts could be hazardous to your health this holiday season.

You may not be able to predict spending the holiday season nursing a kitchen burn or bruise from a fall, but you can make sure you’re protected from all other emergencies. At insuranceQuotes, a few minutes is all it takes to get the best coverage and deals in auto, business, health, or life insurance. Not sure which discounts you might qualify for or what’s covered by the insurance you’re signed up for today? insuranceQuotes.com will help demystify all your coverage questions. Visit us at insuranceQuotes to learn more.

Methodology

We scraped the NEISS database for records of emergency room visits and injuries from as far back as 2006, reported the week of the Christmas holiday, to see what items sent people most to the hospital. We analyzed the number of injuries that week, the items that caused them, and how injuries around the holidays have fluctuated over time and by item.

Sources

Fair Use Statement

If you’d like to share the story of holiday hazards, you’re welcome to use this project’s findings for noncommercial purposes on your own site. We simply ask that you attribute insuranceQuotes accordingly by providing a link to this page.

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