Transforming a home into a glittery winter wonderland is a Christmas tradition for many families. As loved ones trim the tree and hang their stockings with care, it is important to remember to keep safety in the forefront when decking the halls. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), during the past few years, more than 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms nationwide from injuries related to holiday decorations.
“The last thing anyone wants while decorating their home for the holidays is to end up in the emergency room hurt,” says Daniel Checco, D.O., emergency medicine physician at the Silver Cross Free-Standing Emergency Care Center located at 143rd St. and Bell Rd. in Homer Glen. “To avoid hidden decorating dangers, people just need to practice a common sense approach by taking necessary safety precautions. Although if they find themselves seriously injured from a fall or burn, seek medical attention quickly.”
Further, these U.S. CPSC guidelines can help keep the holiday season safe for all:
Many artificial trees are fire resistant and have a statement specifying this protection.
A fresh tree stays green longer and is less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Remember:
• A fresh tree is green.
• Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, do not break.
• The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
• When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry.
• To maintain freshness, place tree away from fireplaces. Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.
Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, follow directions.
Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
Turn off all lights on all decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted! To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it!
Keep “bubbling” lights away from children. These lights with their bright colors and bubbling movement can tempt curious children to break candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and attempt to drink liquid, which contains a hazardous chemical.
Never use lighted candles on a tree and keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
In homes with small children, take special care to:
• Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
• Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. Pieces could be swallowed.
Before lighting any fire, remove all decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that flue is open. Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning.
Emergency Care Nearby
Even with the utmost caution, Christmas-related injuries can still occur. It is good to know peace of mind is just minutes away at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center located at 143rd and Bell Rd. in Homer Glen. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Center is staffed with Silver Cross Hospital’s board certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses. For more information, call (708) 364-6004.
Located in the same building is the Silver Cross Health Center offering MRI, CT, X-ray, Ultrasound, EKG and laboratory services. A physician’s order is required. To schedule an appointment for a test, call (815) 300-7076. There are also several primary and specialty physician offices and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross. For a referral to a physician at the Homer Glen medical center, call 1-888-660-HEAL or visit www.silvercross.org.