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Doctors: Play It Safe When Christmas Decorating

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - With holiday thoughts now firmly on Christmas, many of us may be putting up holiday decorations this weekend, especially outside, but too often that results in falls for the unwary homeowner. Sometimes it is safer to let someone else to it for you.

Dallas homeowner, William McDaniel, is not up to hanging on to second story roofs and negotiating ladders, so he's having it done for him. "I figured that for safety reasons it'd be a lot easier to hire a professional to do that because I'd rather do something else with my time besides lay in a hospital," he said, laughing.

There can be genuine danger in decorating. A McKinney man died in a fall in 2008. Nationally, it's estimated more than 15,000 people hit emergency rooms for injuries while hanging holiday decorations.

"Hands down, probably the most common thing I see are falls associated with the folks around Christmas holidays," Dr. Nimesh Patel told CBS 11 News.

A neurosurgeon at Methodist Central Hospital in Oak Cliff, Patel says people too often ignore head bumps if they otherwise feel okay. "Sometimes injuries don't show up until a little bit later. Some people will fall, they'll bump their head, and kind of brush it off as nothing serious. But you'd be surprised how many of those same people will show up in the Emergency Room with something more serious…they could have what's called an inter-cranial hemorrhage, a head bleed in severe cases, they may have a mild form of a concussion."

Ken Orear says he knows the dangers and has someone hang the lights in his own home, but his daughter's home is a different story. He enlists her boyfriend to scale the roof and help with the hard part.

"You've got to pay attention, just be as careful as you can. You know? It's not brain surgery, it's just stapling in some wires on the roof," according to Orear. The boyfriend, Trent West, is not entirely on board. "I'm not big on heights, but I do it anyway. It's alright."

McDaniel says he's used the services of DFW Christmas Lights for four years. "We're very happy. They also store the lights for us on an annual basis, so all they do is e-mail us and let us know when they'll be out and set them up like they're doing today." What did he do before they came? "Before then it was a couple of strings on the bushes over there and that was it."

But if you can't leave it to the pros, professional Geno Bargellini or DFW Christmas Lights suggests at the very least you use a proper ladder. "The right size, that you can reach the height that you want to get to safely. And also have someone holding the ladder for you."

DFW Christmas Lights will not only hang the decorations, it will take them down and store them for the next season, according to Bargellini. "Yes you do run into issues with squirrels chewing on lights and of course we offer a warranty and maintenance on the lights and we'll come out and fix everything."

Bargellini says he has 80-100 homes and 10-15 commercial buildings to decorate annually. "We start putting the lights up even before Halloween on the commercial properties, and then right after Halloween we start doing most of the residential houses. So by this time, the day after Thanksgiving, I'd say I'm pretty much 80% done."

DFW Christmas Lights can be reached at 214.257.8155; on the web at: or by email at

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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