Ladders shift. Ornaments break. Knives slip. All are common occurrences that seem to take an even more tragic turn during the holidays. Spending the night in the emergency room after slicing a finger while trying to open a Christmas present just isn’t a very festive way to spend the most joyous time of the year, but plenty of people have to do just that.
According to data analyzed by Quartz from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 1,700 Christmas-related injuries occurred at approximately 100 hospitals across the United States from 2011 to 2015. The CPSC uses the data from the hospitals selected as a probability sample to compile “timely national estimates of the number of injuries” that occurred, according to information collected for the agency’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
Using the data, the CPSC estimated 15,000 holiday decorating injuries occurred nationally in November and December 2012, the latest year available. Each incident reported at one of the 100 hospitals is accompanied by a brief description of the event:
- “44-year-old female was trying to throw out a Christmas tree, was unable to get the tree into the bin; it caused her to fall.”
- “27-year-old female (suffered from) electric shock, grabbed a metal pole while removing Christmas lights at home.”
The list of injuries and descriptions goes on. Decoration-related injuries account for the largest number of the 1,7000 accidents reported to the CPSC, according to Quartz, but on Christmas Day, cutting injuries from opening presents took the lead as the most reported form of accident.
“There are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season. Adding safety to your checklist can keep a holiday tradition from becoming a holiday tragedy,” said CPSC then-Acting Chairman Robert Adler when the 2012 injury estimates were released. “Keep Christmas trees watered well, don’t leave candles unattended, and use caution whenever you are on a ladder.”
Adler’s words of warning apply to adults, but Quartz reported a large number of the 1,700 injuries were children ages newborn to 3 years old who swallowed small ornaments or had an untimely meeting with a heavy Christmas decoration.
Overall, lacerations, whether from a chainsaw or shattered ornament, prove to be the most cited reason for the downfall of holiday cheer.
So this year, wrap presents so they can be easily opened, buy a Christmas tree that would fit in the bin and don’t let the red and white flash of ambulance sirens color your holiday cheer.