Will Your Holiday Decorations Place You At Risk Of Injury?

16 December 2015
 Categories: , Articles

Each year, Americans spend approximately $6 billion dollars or more in holiday decorations. These costs include trees, wreaths, garlands, lights, and inflatable creatures of every imaginable description, as well as many other things. While most people are aware of the fire dangers a live tree may present, most never stop to consider the dangers that many of these other holiday decorations may cause. Unfortunately, holiday decorations can put you and your family at risk of injury in more ways than you can probably imagine.

Your Decorative Lights May Harm You

In addition to the number of home fires that are contributed to holiday trees, it is estimated that approximately 150 fires per year are caused by decorative holiday lights. It may be tempting to buy the cheapest holiday lights on the market, but you could be putting your health and your family's health at risk. 

Holiday lights can not only overheat the surfaces the lights touch, but can cause fires through electrical failures, or malfunctions in the lights themselves. To minimize any injuries that could be caused by decorative lighting, consider the following:

  • Only choose lights that have been tested for safety. In the U.S. most lights that meet this requirement will bear the marks of an independent safety lab such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL).
  • Only use lights where they were designed to go. There are two basic types of holiday lights.
    • Those that have been designed and tested to be used indoors
    • Those that have been designed and tested to be used indoors or outdoors
  • Look for the appropriate markings on your light packages. For example, if your lights have been tested by UL, indoor only lights will have a green holographic label, and indoor/outdoor lights will have a red holographic label.
  • Only plug your outdoor lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle or outlet. This will protect your home from fire in case of a power surge, or any type of shortage. 
  • Check your new, as well as your existing light strands for damage. Throw out any lights that are broken, cracked, frayed, or have loose connections.

You May Be Exposing Your Family To Lead

Did you know that your holiday lights may contain dangerous levels of lead? Approximately 54% of the lights tested contained more lead than would be permitted in any type of children's toy, and some brands contained up to 30% as much. Lead is used in the vinyl material coating the wiring and sockets, as well to ensure they remain heat resistant.

The amount of lead contained in most tested lights is far below the government allowable standards. This means they do not pose a major safety threat to most people, although the state of California does require warning labels that these lights could be hazardous to your health. 

In addition to your lighting, you may even find lead in the paint on those heirloom ornaments that have been passed down from one generation to another. While lead is less likely to be used to paint newer ornaments, you can still purchase those that have been constructed from leaded glass and crystal. 

To minimize your risk of being exposed to lead, always make sure that you wash your hands well after you have finished decorating your tree. Hang any older ornaments that may contain lead paint, or those constructed from leaded glass, out of the reach of children.

Your Candles May Be More Than A Fire Hazard

It is easy to comprehend that any type of open flame, such as those found in a candle is a fire hazard. What you may not have considered is that each time you light candles in your home, you could be causing your family health issues. Scented candles can place family members with asthma be at risk of having breathing difficulties. But candles may pose a risk even those who do not have asthma.

Some studies have shown that every time you light certain types of candles you may be releasing potentially hazardous chemicals. Two of the most common ones are benzene and toluene. These chemicals can cause damage to your brain, lungs, and your central nervous system. The chemicals can also cause developmental difficulties and delays.

Although these claims have been disputed by the candle manufacturers. Why take this type of risk? If you are going to purchase and burn candles, burn those that are vegetable based and unscented. Both of these have been shown not to release harmful chemicals.

If you, or a family member has been injured, or developed an illness due to any of the holiday decorations you have used over the years, contact a personal injury attorney. They may be able to hold the manufacturer of these products liable for your illness or injury. Not only could your attorney possibly get you compensation for what you have been through, they may be able to get the harmful product that caused your injury off of the market.

For more information about personal injury cases, contact a company like GSJones Law Group, P.S.