The holidays bring on an abundance of opportunities for accidents and injuries. Dangerous conditions, negligence, and ignorance can all cause injury over the holiday season, turning it from fun to unpleasant. Taking the time to be aware of what’s going on around you can significantly decrease the likelihood of experiencing a holiday accident. Here are some of the most common holiday accidents and some tips for avoiding them:


– Fires. Holiday related fires originate in kitchens and from lighted decorations/candles. Christmas trees cause over 200 fires yearly. Unplug the tree and other holiday lights when you are away from home, and don’t leave a stove unattended. Never set wrapping paper near an open flame.


– Winter sports. Many injuries originate from winter sports like sledding, hockey, and ice skating. Wear appropriate protective gear for the sport you are playing. Check the hills you want to sled down for bumps and unexpected obstacles.


– Toy safety. Children love receiving gifts and playing with them around the holidays, but many toys can create choking hazards. Make sure all toys are put together properly, and monitor children around small items. Have screwdrivers and scissors available for assemblies and getting into jewel cases.


– Hanging decorations. Be very careful if you plan on hanging decorations in any area that requires the use of a ladder. Ladder falls are very common and can produce life altering injuries. Have someone spot you and provide assistance if you plan to put up holiday decorations.


– Lights. Invest in new lights if your old ones are several years old. Newer lights meet stricter regulations for safety and are less likely to start fires.


– DUI. The holidays are a good time to celebrate with a drink or two, but drinking and driving puts everyone at risk. If you’re planning to get behind the wheel of a car, try to abstain or keep your drinking to one light drink per hour. Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, and the safest way to drink is to never drive.


– Tired driving. Avoid driving while tired, which is almost as risky as driving while intoxicated. Your brain will not perform as well when you are very tired. If necessary, stop and rest before continuing your travels.


– Fireworks. Fireworks can cause burns and create serious structural and environmental fires. Use fireworks one at a time, and read the instructions before lighting them. Never store fireworks in your pockets or aim them at others. Make sure all fires are extinguished and the surrounding environment is safe before leaving the area.


– Stairways. Keep stairways clear. If you have visitors who are unfamiliar with the layout of your home, having cluttered stairways may cause slip and fall injuries.


– Plants. Live mistletoe is poisonous, and Christmas cherry berries can cause stomach aches. Ask the garden center about the toxicity of plants before purchasing. If you have a poisonous plant at home, keep it out of the reach of children and pets.


– Stress. Always take time for peace and quiet around the holidays. The stress of family gatherings and the rush of holiday shopping can leave people in a frazzled state. Try to be understanding of others and take time for yourself around the holidays to avoid unnecessary confrontations and the potential for breakdowns.