The holidays are a wonderful time for families to come together to eat, drink, and be merry. One wouldn't think that they're a particularly risky time, but in fact, death and accident rates are actually higher during December. Bad Christmas ideas can turn fatal, often in ways you might not expect, so it's vital to know what's safe and what's not.
How and why does this rise in accidents happen exactly, and why around December? Although deadly Thanksgiving activity is more related to cooking, Christmas still has its fair share of kitchen accidents. And although family can be comforting, suicide rates are also higher around the holidays. In other words, the holidays are fun, but they can also end up being deadly if you're not careful.
So, how do you be careful? Just follow along with us as we look at some holiday dos and don'ts that you might not be aware of. Let's keep the holidays a time for celebrating.
Leaving Your Christmas Tree Lights On
You may notice that a lot of items on this list have something to do with setting your Christmas tree on fire. That's because Christmas trees tend to dry out pretty easily, and some lights, if left on, can get hot enough to ignite the needles or branches. And before you dismiss it as no big deal, keep this in mind: every year, there are 14 deaths related to Christmas trees catching on fire, so it's definitely possible.
In 2016, Annapolis grandmother Sher Grogg lost her brother, her sister-in-law, and their four children in a fire started by a dry Christmas tree. So yes, even if the tree looks pretty and festive, turn off the lights when you go to bed and you'll be better off in the long run.
Putting Up Decorations Without Help - Or While Drunk
So, there are a couple of things that could go wrong here. Every year, people either decide to deck the halls without assistance, try to do so without safety equipment, or even try to do so drunk. Because, hey, maybe you're just more creative when you're drunk. Still, that's no excuse, and being reckless with your decorating can actually lead to death. What's more frightening is that serious injuries and deaths from holiday decorating are actually on the rise. So, use a ladder, have someone hold it, do so sober, and be smart when you decorate or this holiday could be your last.
If we look at serious sledding inquiries in children for just one year, the number is shockingly at more than 20,000. And that's just injuries in children! Every year, people die just from going out and sledding in areas they shouldn't, especially around the holidays. Either the person falls, is hit by a car, hits a tree, or ends up breaking something in an area where they can't get to warmth and safety so they freeze to death.
In 2016, in Carroll County, Maryland, a five-year-old girl was struck and killed by a car while sledding down a driveway because of poor visibility and road conditions.
Whatever you do, make sure you don't sled alone, keep all young children supervised, and don't sled in an unsafe place.
Forgetting Something in the Oven
It doesn't really matter what holiday you celebrate in December for this one, because this danger involves nondenominational holiday cooking. Feasting around the holidays usually involves a lot of food prep, and in all the festivities, it can be easy to forget that you have something in the oven. Suddenly there's smoke, and then suddenly there's a fire, and then suddenly you're running out into the snow, trying to remember what it was you left burning in the stove!
Cooking fires are significantly more common during December, especially on Christmas, and every year there are over 3,000 deaths related to house fires. Don't be part of that statistic this holiday season, and keep track of your cooking.