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Have a cautious Christmas

Dec 03, 2014 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

In 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 230 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of six civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage per year.

Electrical failures or malfunctions were involved in one-third (32 percent) of the home Christmas tree structure fires. One in six (17 percent) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Decorative lights on line voltage were involved in 12 percent of these incidents. Seven percent of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.

The concerned folks at the NFPA even got some number together to help us prevent klutziness during this hopefully joyous time of year. In a study of fall-related injuries during the holiday season, it is estimated that “an annual average of roughly 5,800 fall injuries related to holiday decorating were treated at hospital emergency rooms between November 1 and January 31 in 2000-2001, 2001-2002, and 2002-2003. Sixty-two percent of those injured were between 20 and 49 years of age, compared to 43 percent of the population in this age group. With 43 percent of the injuries resulting from falls from ladders and 13 percent caused by falls from the roof, it appears that the majority of these falls occurred during outdoor decorating. Falls from furniture, typically inside the structure, accounted for 11 percent of the injuries. Some falls occurred when people tripped over or slipped on tree skirts or other decorations.”

--Sarah Hagerty
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