Preventing Holiday Hazards for All Ages
Connecting with family over video call during Christmas

Ho, Ho, Huh?!

Top Dangers for All Ages Threatening to Take the Happy Out of Your Holidays

Nothing makes you more of a Grinch during the holidays than a trip to the Emergency Room when you should be home enjoying good food, family and friends. Unfortunately, accidents are very common during the holiday season. Here are the top concerns everyone in the family should beware of if you don’t want to have a Ba Humbug holiday season this year.

Top five ways for holiday safety this year.


According to the Electrical Safety Foundation about 5,800 individuals are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained from falls involving holiday decorations.  This can include putting lights up on the house or reaching too far on the ladder to get the star on the top of your tree.

In addition, 4,000 people a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with extension cords1.  Half of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains as a result of tripping over cords.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year, at least 420 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning.

Make sure you install at least one smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home and near bedrooms. Call a certified professional to inspect, clean, and tune up the central heating system in your home every fall. Also, when you’re enjoying a fire with the family, make sure the flue is open, and watch small children around the fireplace and all the hot spots where they can easily burn themselves.


The United States Fire Administration (USFA) says about 30% of all home fires and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February.  These fires happen for a variety of reasons; cooking, heating, and open flames, all which increase during the holidays.


With all their shine and glitter, holiday decorations are especially tempting to small children.  They can quickly choke on items like tinsel, small ornaments, tiny pinecones and pieces from nativity scenes. Be sure to keep all such hazards well out of the reach of children.  Choking hazards also include popular holiday food items like nuts and hard candies.

If an ornament breaks, clean up all glass carefully.  Shards of glass can cause injury, especially if stepped on.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 6,200 are treated for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees, and an additional 1,300 people are treated each year in emergency departments for injuries related to holiday lights.

Poinsettias are often thought to be poisonous, but contrary to popular belief these plants are actually not toxic to people.  At the worst, eating poinsettia may cause mild GI upset or rash. Mistletoe, on the other hand, is potentially more dangerous.  Seek medical attention or contact poison control if mistletoe is ingested.  Eating any part of the mistletoe plant, but particularly the berries and leaves, can lead to serious symptoms and health risks. Holly is another attractive holiday decoration that comes with risk.  Holly berries are especially dangerous if ingested, particularly by children.

Give yourself a gift this holiday season. Beware of the hazards that threaten to rob you of the joy and relaxation you deserve. An ounce of prevention is worth a lot more than what Santa might bring you.

Dr. Kristi Trussell is an ER physician and Assistant Medical Director of The Urgency Room

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