Don’t Let Holiday Cheer Turn into Calamity: CPSC Warns of Common Risks

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According to a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report on toy-related deaths and injuries, there were 11 deaths and an estimated 145,500 emergency department-treated injuries in 2022 associated with toys for children 12 years and younger. 

As the holiday season approaches, Americans embrace the festive spirit, but there's a not-so-festive side to the season: deaths and injuries related to holiday activities.

The CPSC also reports 14,800 people were treated in hospital emergency departments due to holiday decorating-related injuries during last year's pre-festivities. 

To ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season, it's crucial to be mindful of potential hazards and take necessary precautions. 

Be Careful What You Buy Online

CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric says, “Consumers should not only “think safety” about what they buy for children but should also be vigilant about where gifts are purchased, primarily online.”

Who’s the Seller?

Online shoppers can purchase gifts directly from the manufacturer, through a retailer, or from a third-party seller. The CPSC recommends looking for the “sold by” information to decide whether they’re reputable dealers.

If the price seems too good to be true, this can be a sign that the product is not authentic or original and may be unsafe.

Reviews and Safety Information 

Instead of rushing through product descriptions or ignoring them, read the bottom of the listing or check drop-down menus for additional safety information, especially when shopping for children. 

Read customer reviews to see what other consumers have experienced with the product before deciding. 

The World Against Toys Causing Harm website has also published its list of worst toys to buy in 2023. 

Certification Marks

According to the CPSC report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 1.1 million dangerous or illegal toys in 2023. Look for a certification mark on toys from an independent testing organization on the manufacturer’s label.

Recalled Products

If purchasing second-hand products from an online marketplace, check whether those products have been recalled

Avoiding Toy Hazards At Home

Safety Gear

The CPSC reports that non-motorized scooters account for one in five toy-related injuries in children aged 14 and younger. Don't skimp on safety gear, including helmets for scooters and other riding toys. 

Keep it Age-Appropriate

Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than three years old, and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight.

Discard Wrapping

Once the gifts are open, discard packaging before it becomes a dangerous plaything.

Avoiding Cooking Hazards

During the holidays, kitchens come alive with the aromas of feasts and thankfulness in our hearts. While the anticipation of culinary delights is undeniable, it's crucial to remember that cooking can pose potential hazards.

Don’t Leave Food Out; Take Food Safety Seriously

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a bacteria called Clostridium perfringens is to blame for nearly a million cases of food-borne illness in the U.S. The cases rise during the holiday season, since these months are most often associated with foods left out at room temperature. Put those leftovers in the fridge after the meal is over.

Be Careful With Turkey

Only fry a turkey outside and away from your home or other flammable materials. Never use turkey fryers in an enclosed area like the garage or on the porch.

If buying a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends allowing 24 hours of thawing time for every 4-5 pounds of bird weight.

Cooking Hazards

Be careful with hot pans, electrical equipment, and hot food. Never leave cooking food unattended on the stove or in the oven. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee Fire Department advises cooks to keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop, and to keep a lid handy to smother grease fires.

Top Tips To Avoid Any Decorating Hazards

While decorating brings joy and cheer to the holiday season, it's essential to prioritize safety and avoid hazards. 

Tree Safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. firefighters responded to an average of 160 Christmas tree fires each year between 2016 and 2020 — the latest year figures are available.

Give the Christmas tree plenty of water. A dry tree catches fire easily. Also, look for a fire resistant label when buying an artificial tree.
“Whether consumers choose a live or artificial Christmas tree, it is essential to follow fire safety guidelines when displaying holiday decor to prevent potential fire hazards in the home,” said Jami Warner, Executive Director of the American Christmas Tree Association.

Ensure safety with decorations and lights. The National Fire Protection Association reports that about 25% of Christmas tree fires result from heat sources or electrical issues like lights, fireplaces, radiators, and candles that are kept too close to the tree. 

Don’t Leave Candles Unattended

Never leave candles unattended. Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items like Christmas crafts, cards and decor, and extinguish them before leaving the room. Use flameless candles whenever possible.

Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets

Never string more than three sets of incandescent lights together, and don’t overload electrical outlets. Also, switch off lights if no one is in the house and before bedtime.

Ladder Safety

According to the CPSC, 40% of decorating-related incidents involve falls. UCLA Health recommends checking the ladders before use, while the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises making sure ladders are on firm, level surfaces and recommends decorators work with someone else as a precaution.

Other Safety Tips

Bend Carefully 

The holidays bring a flurry of bending and lifting, from hauling boxes of decorations to hoisting heavy grocery bags. Excess time shopping online can also strain your neck.

UCLA Health recommends lifting with your legs: squatting to pick up a package and straightening your legs to lift. Avoid lifting heavy objects over the shoulder.

Keeping Allergies at Bay

Individuals with food allergies must exercise heightened vigilance during the holiday season. While pre-packaged food must disclose major allergens on its ingredient list, catered dishes demand a more cautious approach. 

Even if your family and friends are aware of your allergies, make sure you ask them again before taking a bite or letting your kids eat it. Deaths from food allergies have occurred during the holidays. 

Drive Carefully

The National Safety Council (NSC) has yet to release its 2023 predictions, but the estimates for 2022 were for as many as 346 fatalities on U.S. roads during  Christmas, and as many as 408 fatal accidents during the New Year’s Day holiday period. Since both holidays are over weekends, and were in 2022, the estimate will be about the same this year, according to Statista. Many Americans travel by car, and with higher alcohol consumption during this period, the chances of an unfortunate event are high.

  • Don’t Drink and Drive: Drinking and driving can have tragic consequences. Make responsible choices by choosing to stay sober, use rideshare services, and, if possible, avoid the roads for the holiday. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-third of car crash fatalities in the U.S. result from drunk driving.
  • Wear Seat Belts: Seat belts reduce the impact of accidents. The NSC estimates that 162 lives can be saved this New Year’s holiday if drivers and passengers in every vehicle wear seat belts.
  • Invite Overnight: If you are throwing a party, consider requesting guests to stay overnight.

Celebrate The Holidays Safely

As the holiday season approaches, it's important to remember that safety should always be the top priority.  

Be mindful of potential hazards when shopping for gifts, decorating your home, and cooking festive feasts. With some caution and planning, you can create a safe and enjoyable holiday experience for everyone.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.