Christmas is a time to spend with family, trim the tree, drink egg nog, and indulge in merriment until the New Year. More than 80% of Americans deck their halls as part of holiday celebrations. While Christmas can be a season unmatched in its joy, it’s also a season rife with accidents. ER visits spike during the months of November and December; according to hospital data, Christmas Day is the deadliest of the year.

In general, holiday decorations only add to the festivity of the season. However, you should still take some precautions to make this year’s celebration your safest one yet. Be wary of these decorating hazards:

  1. Fires

With dry trees and open flames from candles or fireplaces, it should come as no surprise that December is one of the busiest months for home fires. On average, Christmas tree fires cause 13 deaths and 27 injuries as well as $16.7 million in damage each year. Electrical failures can start fires on artificially and pre-lit trees, but for real trees, it’s usually just a case of being too close to an open flame.

  1. Falls

If you want a lighting scheme to rival the Griswold’s, think again: holiday decorating falls are responsible for approximately 5,800 emergency room visits a year. Most of these are from falling off a ladder or roof. If you’re committed to being the merriest home on the block, take some precautions first: anchor yourself to the side of your house, and skip the pre-celebratory egg nog. 

  1. Mistletoe and Holly

Most of us think of poinsettias when it comes to poisonous holiday plants, but these actually pose little toxic risk. The amount of poinsettias you’d need to eat to experience any symptoms is high. Mistletoe, on the other hand, doesn’t require a large dose to wreak severe gastrointestinal havoc. Holly berries can be lethal in small doses (as little as 20 berries for a small child or dog), so if you have children or pets, skip the festive foliage this year.

  1. Artificial Snow

If you live in the Houston area, your white Christmases are few and far between. It can be tempting to reach for the artificial “spray snow” to deck your halls with the fluffy stuff, but it’s full of chemicals that can irritate your lungs when inhaled. Compounds like acetone and methyl chloride can lead to lightheadedness, nausea, or even fainting. If you must spray snow, do it in a well-ventilated area away from children. Use protective gear for your mouth and nose. 

  1. Overexcitement

This may seem like advice better suited for children, but it affects adults this time of year, too. Whether it’s going overboard on decorating the house or attempting to string a tree with lights we suspect might be faulty, we can all be guilty of letting the Christmas spirit carry us away (especially if we’ve dipped one too many times into the holiday punch). Here are some general rules of them: don’t attempt to assemble children’s toys with knives or any objects other than screwdrivers and appropriate tools, and use common sense when it comes to decorating.

The Christmas season provides a much needed break from the stress of the rest of the year. There’s no reason to skip trimming your holiday tree and decorating your home this year, but following some simple precautions can keep you safe throughout the year and into 2016.

If you’ve been affected by a holiday incident on someone else’s property or a guest was injured on yours, reach out to our firm for legal information related to the issue. On behalf of the staff of Houston personal injury attorney Brian White, have a safe and merry winter season!

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