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Holiday injuries on the rise, says government

WASHINGTON - The holidays are a time for family gatherings, but the last place your group wants to get together is the emergency room.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that injuries from falls from ladders while stringing lights and hanging decorations and cuts from broken ornaments and other normally joyful holiday decorating activities are up from previous years. In 2010, more than 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for holiday-related injuries, an increase of 30 percent since 2007.

One of the biggest causes of holiday injuries are fires. The use of Christmas trees and candles during this year can create a hazardous situation. Between 2006 and 2008, there was an annual average 4 deaths and $18 million in property damage related to Christmas tree fires. Candle fires added about 130 deaths and $360 million in damage over those same three years.

"This is easily the busiest time of year, but it's important to make time for safety while celebrating the holidays," John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), said in the press release. "By committing a few minutes each day to safety, many accidents can be avoided and your holidays will be memorable for all the right reasons."

The CPSC said there's simple ways to avoid catastrophes during this time of year. Making sure that your live tree is fresh and set up away from heat sources to help prevent fires. Also, any artificial trees you buy should be labeled fire-resistant. Be extra cautious when decorating a tree with a child; ornaments can easily fall on them.

As for those twinkling lights, make sure you buy ones that have been tested for safety at a nationally recognized testing laboratory like UL. Check to see that you are using designated outdoor lights in an appropriate setting.

Also, as much as it might seem convenient, don't burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. It is much more flammable than you would expect and ignites and burns intensely.