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Avoiding injury while decorating for the holidays

'Tis the season for holiday decorations! While lining the roof of your home seems like an excellent way to win the neighborhood decorating contest, it is important to remember that safety comes first.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), over 10,000 people per year are treated in hospital due to injuries related to decorating for the holidays.

Additionally, there are approximately 11,000 fires due to candles and 400 fires related to Christmas trees. In total, there are roughly 170 deaths due to fire and over 1,200 injuries.

In an effort to mitigate some of the risks, the CPSC closely monitors the import and sale of holiday lights and decorations. Any products that they find to not meet safety standards are not allowed to be imported. However, if you have sustained an injury due to faulty holiday decorations, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney.

The CPSC provides the following tips for staying safe during the holidays.

Tips for trees

If you are in the market for an artificial Christmas tree, be sure it is labeled "Fire Resistant." While this does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it signifies that the tree will resist burning. It should also be able to be extinguished quickly if it does happen to catch on fire.

For those who prefer a live tree, keep in mind that you should choose one that is fresh. The tree should be green and the needles hard to pull from the branches. Also, the needles should not easily fall to the ground or break. Be sure that the butt of the tree is still sticky with resin. The more moisture present in the tree, the more resistant it is to fire.

Whether the tree is artificial or live, make sure it is placed a safe distance away from the fireplace or radiator. Additionally, keep the tree away from exits, doorways, and the way of traffic.

Tips for lights

Only use lights that have been tested and are in conformance with safety standards. If the set of lights has broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, loose connections, or does not have fused plugs, then do not use them.

Outdoor lights should be certified for outdoor use. Also, use the appropriate extension cord when necessary and avoid using more than three standard-sized strings of lights per cord.

When leaving the house or going to bed, turn off all holiday lights to avoid risking a short that could start a fire.

In addition to selecting the proper tree and lights for your purposes, when actually erecting the tree or placing the lights, be aware of the risk of falls, cuts, and even shocks.

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