The holiday season is fast approaching, and lots of people are already making plans and decorating, with many more to follow on the day before and in the days following Thanksgiving.

As fun and festive as this time of year is, though, at the risk of sounding like a buzzkill, it’s important to remember a few basic safety tips that can keep you out of the ER and chiropractor’s office this year. Don’t let a moment’s carelessness turn you into a statistic, as more than 15,000 people were injured in holiday and decorating-related accidents last year. Here are a few simple tips you can use to avoid the most common pitfalls:

1) Basic ladder safety – This is hands down the biggest culprit of holiday injuries and mishaps, and here, the trouble takes two forms:
Either people misuse the ladder they have, climbing too high on the rungs or not following basic safety precautions like having someone steady it while you’re on it. The other just as common situation is that people forego the use of a ladder altogether, not wanting to drag it out of storage.
Instead, they’ll climb on chairs or other furniture in order to gain the height they need to hang those last few decorations. Both are recipes for disaster, so just say no!

2) Basic electrical safety – Before you string those dazzling lights all over your house, be sure to go through each strand and check for shorts, frayed wires and burned out bulbs. Failing to take this simple step can result in burns or shocks in the best case, and fires in the worst. Burning your house down for lack of prep work is an even worse way to ring in the holidays than getting hurt, so take your time here.

3) Your Christmas tree – If you get a live tree every year, be sure to keep it well watered and don’t overload it with lights (again, the fire hazard). If you’re using an artificial tree, be sure to get a flame resistant one. In both cases, be sure to keep them well away of any heat source.

Following these simple tips won’t guarantee you an accident-free holiday season, but they’ll go a long way toward helping you avoid the most common types of holiday-related injuries.

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