The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Staying Safe for the Holidays: Tips from the National Safety Council

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last week our blog discussed the top 10 most dangerous toys of 2016, but dangerous toys are far from the only safety risk during the holiday season. Christmas decorations can be laceration hazards or fire hazards, dangerous and defective products given as gifts can cause injuries, improper food handling for holiday meals can cause food poisoning, and travel risks include inclement weather and drunk or distracted drivers.

In order to help people have a happy and safe holiday season, the National Safety Council has compiled a list of safety tips for this time of year. The NSC divides its safety tips into categories including home decorating safety, fire safety, gift-giving safety, and travel safety.

Home Decorating
The NSC reports that approximately 15,000 ER visits each year are the result of holiday decorating injuries. Below are the agency's tips for avoiding decorating injuries:

  • "Angel hair," made from spun glass, can irritate your eyes and skin; always wear gloves or substitute non-flammable cotton
  • Spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled; follow directions carefully
  • Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
  • Always use the proper step ladder; don't stand on chairs or other furniture
  • Lights are among the best parts of holiday decorating; make sure there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets
  • Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets; the national Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222
  • Make sure paths are clear so no one trips on wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.; NSC provides tips for older adults on slip, trip and fall protection
Fire Safety

Each year, 12% of home candle fires occur in December, according to National Fire Protection Association data cited by the NSC. Additionally, improper use of turkey fryers can cause fires or significant burn injuries. Here are ways you can stay safe:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
  • Keep candles out of reach of children
  • Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
  • Don't burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
  • Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year
  • Set up a turkey fryer more than 10 feet from the house and keep children away
  • Find flat ground; the oil must be even and steady to ensure safety
  • Use a thawed and dry turkey; any water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over (see video at right)
  • Fryer lid and handle can become very hot and cause burns
  • Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times
Safe Gift-Giving

Giving holiday gifts is a tradition meant to spread joy, but dangerous or defective products and those which are unsafe for the recipient can lead to holiday injuries. The NSC recommends the following tips to make sure the gifts you give are safe for those who receive them:

Travel Safety

Many Americans will take to the nation's highways to travel for the holidays. Whether you are taking a short trip across town or a cross-country trip to visit relatives, here are some NSC tips for keeping you and your family safe:

Whether you stay close to home or travel this holiday season, be safety aware to avoid holiday injuries.  Read more about holiday health and safety at

Image credit: H. Matthew Howarth

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