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[ Study] 10 Years of Christmas-Related Injuries: 2008 – 2017

Christmas Injuries Header
It seems as though the Christmas season comes earlier and early each year. The leaves on the trees hardly begin to change colors when we start to see lights, decorations and holiday theme coffee cups. Americans spend countless hours and hundreds if not thousands of dollars preparing for the Christmas holidays, decorating their homes, shopping for gifts and traveling to their holiday destinations.

However, the high cost of getting into the Christmas spirit impacts more than our wallets and schedules. Every day just before, during and shortly after the holiday season someone steps on a glass ornament, swallows an ornament hook, falls off a ladder hanging lights, or throws their back out reaching to put the star on a tree.

In fact, The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,126 people visited emergency departments for Christmas decoration-related injuries in 2017. Over the last ten years, from 2008 to 2017, as many as 134,281 people were sent to the E.R. by Christmas decorations.

People Injured By Christmas Decorations in the U.S. – 10 Year Estimates

YearMaleFemaleTotal Injuries
20085,2838,35713,640
20096,8646,68813,552
20104,8867,75612,642
20115,7777,35413,131
20127,5718,38315,954
20134,2295,80610,035
20145,8427,40613,248
20155,3117,87713,188
20166,1178,64814,765
20175,6618,46514,126

Through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), the CPSC monitors and collects data from approximately 100 hospitals throughout the United States. They use the data as a probability sample of the more than 5,000 U.S. hospitals with emergency departments to make estimates about the number of consumer product-related injuries that occur in the U.S. each year.

We parsed both the estimate and observed (actual ER visits) data for injuries caused by Christmas decoration-related injuries: in this case injuries involving artificial Christmas trees (there is no data for real trees), nonelectric Christmas decorations, Christmas lights and Christmas tree stands or supports.

*These are the only Christmas specific product categories in the system

Estimate Data for Christmas Decoration Injuries

Women are injured by decorations more often than men. Over the ten year period, an estimated 76,740 women visited the ER compared to 57,541 men.

Whether this means women spend more time decorating, are more careless than men while doing so, or just more inclined to go to the E.R. when they are hurt is up for debate.

Types of Injuries

Lacerations are the most common injury type, followed by strains and sprains, contusions, fractures and ingestion injuries.

DiagnosisInjuries
Laceration25,419
Strain or Sprain22,780
Contusion20,655
Fracture15,692
Ingestion10,947
Internal Injury6,468
Foreign Body5,092
Nerve Damage1,708
Puncture1,568

 

What body part do people hurt the most?


The body parts most commonly injured are the lower trunk, head, internal organs, upper trunk, foot, finger and face.

Most Commonly Injured Body Parts Injured by Christmas Products

Observed Data for Christmas Injuries

Estimate data can only take us so far, so we looked at the observed, incident-level data. The sample hospitals recorded 3,079 E.D. visits involving Christmas decorations and Christmas-related products and activities. We included any record involving gifts or wrapping paper, ornaments, decorations, artificial trees, tree stands, and Christmas lights.

 

Christmas Related Injuries Chart

As you might expect, the vast majority of these injuries occur in December, followed November and January. Christmas-related injuries really start to pick up around Thanksgiving and peak on December 7th. After a holiday lull, they rise again on New Year’s day ass people begin to take down their trees and decorations.

Severity of Injuries

Of the observed injuries, only one was fatal.  On Christmas Eve, 2015, a 64-Year-Old Male, fell off of a 20 feet ladder and onto his neck while hanging a wreath.

  • 2,850 Were Treated and Released
  • 174 Were Admitted to the Hospital
  • 30 Left Without Being Seen
  • 18 Were Treated and Transferred
  • 18 Were Held for Observation
  • 1 Was Unknown

Specific Case Examples

Each and every case logged in the data comes with a narrative – a description of the incident.  Here are a handful of examples of what these injuries look like:

DateDescription of Incident
12/31/1733 Year Old Female Had A Box Of Christmas Decorations Fall Onto Head Sustained A Contusion To Scalp
12/27/172 Year Old Male Bit Into A Glass Christmas Tree Ornament And Sustained A Lip Laceration
12/26/175  Year Old Male Got Hit On Face By A Christmas Stocking Holder- Laceration. To Eyebrow Diagnosis: Right Eyebrow Laceration
12/25/17Patient Tripped Over Christmas Train Hitting Her Head On Concrete Floor. Diagnosis: Scalp Laceration 83-Year-Old Female
12/25/1783 Year Old Female S/P Fall Putting Presents Under Xmas Treed Diagnosis: Closed Fracture L Distal Radius
12/14/1636 Evaluation Of L Foot Injury, Patient Sts Was Carrying Christmas Tree When She Fell Down 2 Steps, Injuring Left Foot Diagnosis: Foot Fracture, Left Closed
12/13/1645 Year Old Female Had A Slip And Fall Onto Chest Sustained A Contusion To Ribs Getting Down Christmas Decorations At Home
12/18/15Left 3rd Finger Laceration /73 Year Old White Female At Home Was Helping With Nativity Scene & Accidentally Cut Her Finger With A Table Saw.
12/6/1527 Year Old Female Stood Up In Basement Striking Head On Corner Of Ductwork While getting Christmas Ornaments.
12/3/1550 Year Old Male Cut Finger On Wreath Hanger At Home Diagnosis: Lacerated Finger
1/14/1547 Year Old Male Taking Down Christmas Lights From Patient’s Home, Fell Off Ladder Onto Wall Diagnosis: Rib Fracture
12/7/1439 Year Old Male Hanging Christmas Lights On His Roof And Fell Off Onto Ehad Laceration To Scalp
12/1/1240 Year Old Female Felt Pop In Neck While Putting Up Christmas Tree At Home
11/25/1227 Year Old Male Cut Hand W/Box Cutter Opening Christmas Decorations. Diagnosis Lacerated Hand.
12/23/1148 Year Old Male – States Got Fb In Eye Today While Moving Christmas Lights In Attic
12/19/1119 Year Old Male Fell Off Of A 1 Ft Stool While Putting Up Christmas Tree Lights.
12/17/116 Year Old Female Stocking Holder Fell On Her Head Diagnosis: Lacerated Scalp
12/16/1151 Year Old Female Standing On A Chair Hanging Christmas Decorations And Fell Fractured Lower Arm
1/4/1116 Year Old Male Kicked The Christmas Tree Stand, toe Contusion
12/26/1015 Year Old Female Had A Stocking Holder Fall Off A Shelf Into Face Lip Laceration
1/12/1031 Year Old Female Was Hit In Face With Box While Taking Down Christmas Decorations at Home/ Nasal Bone Fracture
11/2/0925 Year Old Female using Vacuum At Home And Setting Up Christmas Tree When Dev Low Back Pain  Dx Exacerbation Of Low Back Pain

Other Products Involved

When another product was listed as involved in the injury, ladders and stepladders were most likely to be involved.  Interestingly, men were injured while using ladders much more often than women were.  This suggests that men are much more likely to be hanging decorations and lights in high places where a ladder is necessary – or that they are less careful when using ladders.

  • Ladders and Stepladders: 324 injuries (248 male vs 76 female)
  • Containers: 101injuries  (male 33 v 68 female)
  • Stairs and Steps: 78 injuries
  • Floors and Flooring Material: 64 injuries
  • Chairs: 52 injuries(Male 14 vs 28 female)
  • Step Stools: 46 injuries

Race of Injured Person

2,120 cases recorded the race of the patient.  Overwhelmingly, people that visit emergency departments for Christmas-related injuries are white.

  • White 1,749 injuries
  • Black / African American: 208 injuries
  • Hispanic: 130 injuries
  • Asian 12 injuries
  • Other: 7 injuries