Outdoors still the safest bet for Thanksgiving, Halloween gatherings this year, say health experts



The number of US deaths from falls on holiday decorations and decorations like Christmas trees and wreaths have steadily increased since 1997

Outdoors still the safest bet for Thanksgiving, Halloween gatherings this year, say health experts

When it comes to safer holiday hazards, it’s probably best to get outside in the fresh air, rather than in the kitchen.

The number of deaths caused by slips and falls on Halloween and decorations like Christmas trees and wreaths has steadily increased since 1997, the year before flimsy plastic spider webs were banned from malls and stores, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

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The research has been released just as the countdown is officially on to Black Friday. The CDC reported a 6% increase in deaths from slips and falls among high school students between 2009 and 2012.

In the holiday decorations department, the dangers have increased as well. Between 1993 and 2008, the number of deaths caused by slips and falls from holiday ornaments, trees and wreaths increased from 42 to about 100.

“We think the uptick can be attributed to the factors identified in previous reports – a greater use of decorations throughout the season – and people having more children at home during the holidays,” the CDC report said.

Despite these increases, however, the CDC did conclude that people are dying more frequently from injuries caused by skiing, riding horses, snowmobiling and skydiving.

In 2007 and 2008, for example, 63% of all snowmobiling related deaths were from slips and falls from a tree.

For those hoping to safely avoid all the hazards of the holiday season, some healthy options for some well-chosen family get-togethers are looking good. The CDC offered these six tips:

• Don’t keep children close to shopping carts when using them to shop or leaving them in a buggy.

• If you’re shopping in a car and plan to drive, wear comfortable shoes so your feet don’t get tired.

• Always stay near the front of the vehicle when shopping and don’t put shopping bags on the back seat or in the trunk.

• Don’t crowd the grocery store freezer case, and never use plastic or glass ice trays. These containers are larger and may offer “a more dangerous space for a child to walk”.

• If you have to hold any pool toys, pick rubber “springlike” toys that bounce, not metal and fixed.

• Use reflective tape on outdoor shelves or display items or install safety fencing.

• Don’t put presents in the light unless they have frost or ice on them. Keep children from hiding from you and slipping, falling and becoming injured.

In the holiday décor department, the dangers have increased as well. There were 113 deaths between 1997 and 2007 from falls or mishaps with Christmas trees and wreaths. Since 2009, the number of deaths has increased from 52 to around 100. Most people between the ages of 12 and 24 who died from holiday decorations were men. The cost of the holiday decorations fell by nearly 30% between 2005 and 2014.

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