It's that time of year again. The time when we all need a quick refresher course on Christmas light/decoration safety, according to Illinois State Fire Marshall Matt Perez.

Fire Marshall Perez points out that two out of every five home holiday decoration fires occur because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, and one-third of home holiday-time house fires are caused by the careless use of candles.

Bottom line, keep candles away from decorations, keep decorations away from heat sources, and if you've got some wiring that looks a little iffy--replace it.

I know, you've heard it all before, but it really is serious business. Last holiday season here in Illinois, 15 people lost their lives in lighting/decoration related house fires.

But, when you think of the way people used to decorate for the holidays "back in the day," it's surprising that anyone lived to see New Year's Day. From lit candles that were actually placed on the tree, cobbled together light-strings that overtaxed a house's entire electrical system, to fake snow that was made from real asbestos, we lived on the edge back then.

People used to get hurt right and left in decades past, and surprisingly, even with today's safety-first attitudes, people are still getting hurt constantly during the holiday season. Between 2011 and 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that 1,700-plus Americans found themselves in the emergency room due to a lighting/decorating/gift wrapping (etc.) injury.

All but 500 of the 1,700 injuries in the CPSC data were related to decorations. Some were injuries sustained while hanging up or taking down decorations. Others were lacerations caused by broken ornamental bulbs.

Sweeping Christmas toy with dust pan and brush dropped and smashed by accident
Getty Images

The Consumer Product Safety Commission's website says that some of the injuries were even caused by spreading some "holiday cheer."

  • 43 year old woman states that she was dancing Christmas morning--and fractured her ankle.
  • 47 year old female has lower arm pain after ringing bells on Christmas morning.
  • 44 year old male was trying to throw out a Christmas tree, but was unable to get it into the dumpster and subsequently fell in the dumpster head-first.

My dad, after having a few-too-many Tom & Jerrys at a neighbor's Christmas party, came home and promptly passed out under our Christmas tree. There were no physical injuries, but my mom took a pretty big bite out of his butt (verbally) for doing it, and brought it up for the next 25 years whenever the holidays rolled around again. Good times, good times.

Let's be careful out there.


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