Christmas lights aren’t dangerous, right?
Nothing puts you in the mood for the holidays quite like the sound of carols blasting at the shops, the scent of pine on your grandpa’s Christmas tree and the traffic jams right up to your nearest Westfield. Ahh yes, Christmas in Australia, which for many wouldn’t be complete without thousands of twinkly Christmas Light Displays to really remind us that the silly season is upon us!
As you and your family rip open boxes of lights you got from Kmart at last year's Boxing Day sales, eager to set up and impress your friends and neighbors with the sickest and ‘brightest display in the street, you might be inclined to forget about the most basic and common sense of precautions.
The Australian Medical Association admits that there are limited Australian studies on the injuries caused by Christmas decorations. Instead, they relay the findings of an American study on their website.
Did you know that between 2011-2015, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 17,000 accidents in the 100 hospitals that they monitor?
Quite a number of injuries are caused by trees or decorations toppling over. To avoid this, try to make sure that the tree is on a stable and level surface. Sometimes we can be overzealous with the decorations which actually makes the display unbalanced. Securing the base in paramount, as the leverage of the tree is sure to topple it over. You can weigh down the base with a couple of bricks or water bottles for example.
You want your decorations to be able to withstand the occasional yanking, touching, brushing up, leaning on by unsuspecting visitors too.
The CPSC disclosed that most Christmas-related injuries happen as you install or dismantle your display. Many of the accidents are related to overreaching for something while stepping on a ‘makeshift’ ladder (think kneeling on a bar stool!), causing a pretty nasty fall. This is where you get into danger territory - lacerations from broken ornaments, sprains, broken bones, and even concussions ensue.
Perfectionist who loves to trim the tree? Make it a group activity and spread the cheer! Enlist friends and family to help. Use proper ladders on stable surfaces to get to out-of-reach heights. One person could pass the ornaments whilst one holds the ladder in place. This doesn’t just make for a safer installation but also for a fun as easier task too. You might even want to make a new tradition!
Sparkle and Twinkle
Did you know the modern day Human is programmed to associate shiny things, almost automatically, with Christmas? So whilst you may be keen to pop out the glitter or special paints and dyes to achieve that reflectiveness, beware of allergic reactions and skin sensitivity. No really, some people are more sensitive to these finishes than others (and you wouldn’t want to take down Granny on Christmas day?)
Our top tip for dealing with shiny glitter explosions and hard core paint & decorations? Wear gloves and Safety glasses. Oh, and keep a vacuum cleaner nearby to suck the dust of your ornaments and boxes that have finally seen the light of day after 11 months in the garage.
We want a glimmer in our eyes during the holidays, not glitter!
A Feast for the Eyes
The best Christmas displays are definitely eye-candy. If you have small children, pets, or a stupid cousin called George, they might think those white balls are real marshmallows. No Joke, about 17% of the hospitalizations reported happen due to people injecting Christmas ornaments!
Secure the ornaments using florist’s wire or cable ties. Typically, baubles and their hooks are too easily removed. It may be a little more tedious to install and dismantle, but it’s better to be safe and overly cautious than sorry.
You may also want to consider keeping ornaments, especially glass ones, and lights out of reach children (yes, including the Jojo and George). If you’re using a real tree you’ll also have to be mindful of the water and tree preservatives which sometimes act as magnets for our thirsty, furry friends. Try faux gift boxes or placing mini picket fences around the base of the tree. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re going to decorate your dining table or kitchen, avoid using glitter, no matter how tempting. Try to avoid using fresh poinsettias, certain varieties of holly and mistletoes as those are poisonous when ingested.
Nice to see, not to eat.
That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling
Fire. The four letter word that sends shudders down even the seasoned decorator as they piggy on another double adapter. It’s always a possibility but would never happen to me, right?
Well the bad news is, Christmas decorations, real of artificial, are inherently flammable, even if labelled as fire-resistant. So unplug your tree while you are away, including when you leave your home or go to bed. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, double check your smoke alarms and keep doorways clear - even if it seems a little overkill.
It Only Takes a Spark
Hanover Insurance shares that one out of three fires are electrical in nature. So when you have a thousand hot lights snuggling up around baubles and paper gingerbred men on your tree, you want to keep a few things in mind:
If you’ve made it this far then you’re on the right track! Christmas Lights in Australia are synonmous with all things Festive! Big or small, not only do they bring cheer to all who see...they are pretty darn fun to put up!
So, have you started yet?