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Tis the season to be safe: Spreading holiday cheer but avoiding injury while decorating

Avoiding Christmas decorating injuries
Avoiding Christmas decorating injuries 03:28

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Next to Thanksgiving weekend, this first weekend in December is one of the most popular times to get your home into the holiday spirit. 

It's also when hospital emergency rooms see an uptick and fire prevention experts cringe. 

Not to be a Grinch, but according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 160 decorating-related injuries happen every day during the holiday season. 

It can be fun for the whole family - picking a tree and then decorating it for the home...but from emergency room to emergency room, there is a holiday theme and not just the decor. 

"It also provides an opportunity for injuries to happen," said Dr. Thomas Waters, Emergency Medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. "A lot of injuries we see from falls, obviously when you're putting holiday decorations up, that often involves being on a ladder. You really need to be careful when you do that and do it the right way." 

That means never going higher on the ladder than where you reach four feet above the top of the ladder. 

"[You have to] understand that a fall from six feet to the floor can be absolutely devastating, if not end your life," Dr. Waters explained. 

Allegheny County Emergency Service Chief Matt Brown said check a real Christmas tree every day. 

"Make sure the tree is fresh and you can test that by the bending of the needles," he said. "Certainly the watering of the tree." 

Chief Brown said modern LED lights don't heat up like the ones you inherited from your parents or grandparents.

"Each of those bulbs generates heat," Brown said. "There's a lot more electrical consumption and draw on it so it can present a greater hazard." 

Chief Brown said to never leave the tree lit when you leave or go to bed. 

"There should be somebody in a relatively close area so if something goes bad there, you're able to address it," he said. 

It's also important to be careful with decorations around a fireplace. 

"A lit fireplace should be an attended fire," Chief Brown explained. "Lit candles should be an attended candle and a lit tree should be an attended tree. That's my best safety consideration to you."

Two final points - avoid using extension cords plugged into extension cords, it's best if everything is plugged directly into the wall. 

Of course, make sure your smoke detectors are working. 

As for outdoor decorations, Dr. Waters recommends staying off the roof and letting a professional do it. Chief Brown added to be aware of the lighting you put up and that it's not in contact with a part of your roof that could catch fire if the bulbs are hot. 

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