Deck the Halls and Other Christmas Accidents Waiting to Happen
In Christmas movies, people are capable of getting injured in all sorts of unusual ways. They fall through ice (see video at 4:45), they get whacked with a paint can, or they come close to almost shooting out their eye. But in reality, what sends people from decking the halls to just plain decked? Since 1996, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) has recorded some causes of Christmas calamities. Starting with the most common, they include:
Non-Electric Christmas Decorations (think tree-toppers and the dreaded ladder). The odds a person will visit an emergency department due to an accident involving non-electric Christmas decorations in a year are 1 in 34,870. While these ER-worthy accidents are not exceedingly likely—you're likelier (at odds of 1 in 28,980) to visit the hospital for a blanket-related injury in a year—they display some common characteristics. Distinct ones: nearly every injury of this type listed by the NEISS involves dropped objects (likely), falls (likelier), or strained backs (likeliest). In 2008, supermodel Kate Moss and her boyfriend both suffered just such injuries, blaming noticeable facial scrapes and black eyes on a dropped box of decorations.
Electric Christmas Decorations Paired with Above-Mentioned Ladder. The odds a person will visit an emergency department due to an accident involving electric Christmas decorations in a year are 1 in 126,000. However almost none of those injuries involve electricity; instead, virtually all ER narratives on the subject run the same way. The dreaded ladder becomes downright treacherous when paired with twinkling lights.
- "WAS TAKING DOWN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND FELL DOWN STEPS"
- "PATIENT FELL OFF A LADDER AT HOME WHILE TAKING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS DOWN"
- "TAKING DOWN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND FELL OFF OF ROOF"
- "WAS REMOVING XMAS LIGHTS FROM THE ROOF AND FELL OFF THE LADDER"
- "PUTTING UP CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, FELL APPROX 25 FT OFF ROOF, SLIPPED ON LADDER, LANDING IN GRASS, STRUCK HEAD"
Sometimes the Christmas Tree Lights Get You All by Themselves. The full list of light-related injuries is wide-ranging: from ingestion and choking in young patients, to a case of seizures in a 66-year-old brought on by staring at a public Christmas lights display.
Beware Artificial Trees and Stands: It’s not common, but it does happen. The odds a person will visit an emergency department due to an accident involving artificial Christmas trees or stands in a year are 1 in 189,900.
Gun Mishaps. A black eye is one thing, but what about shooting your eye out? Is a BB- or air-gun-related injury really that likely, for those who finally get their Red Ryder? Sorry, kids: it is. The chances are relatively high—higher than anything listed above. The odds a person will visit an emergency department due to an accident involving non-powder guns in a year are 1 in 12,610.
For more information on over a decade's worth of decoration-related injuries, visit the NEISS here. To run a query (see Query NEISS button at bottom of screen), enter product codes: 1711 (Christmas tree lights), 1729 (non-electric Christmas decorations), 1712 (Christmas tree stands or supports), 1701 (artificial Christmas trees), 1736 (electric Christmas decorations) and view detailed descriptions of each incident.