Everything you need to know to stay safe this holiday season

It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, climbing your 12-foot extension ladder to hang the lights along the eaves of the house.

Until you landed after free-falling all the way back down.

“The holidays are especially tough times for falls from ladders,” said Dr. Bruce Adams, chair of emergency medicine at University Hospital and UT Health San Antonio. “Us men, we want to get up there hang the lights, get up on the roof, put Santa and the reindeer on the roof — and we fall.”

Dr. Adams, speaking to KENS5 reporter Jeremy Baker, said ladders are one of the biggest hazards that injure or kill people around the holidays. And the holidays bring a LOT of potential hazards.

“Ladders kill more men than electrocutions, snakebites, avalanches, floods — all those combined,” Dr. Adams added, in an interview that was part of the Wear The Gown series of stories examining men’s health issues. Wear The Gown is a partnership between University Health System and KENS5.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has some good safety advice regarding ladders. But experts point out that some people — especially older people — should stay off ladders in the first place. Balance and coordination decline with age.

Another common risk this time of year is fire.

“The three most likely days of the year for a house to burn up from a candle are Christmas, New Year’s, and New Year’s Eve,” Dr. Adams said.

Dried-out Christmas trees also pose a problem, as do old, unsafe strings of Christmas lights.

Other Safety Tips for the Holidays

According to the National Safety Council, you should take other precautions during the holidays to make sure you and your family stay safe:

  • Make sure to prepare your car for winter and prepare an emergency kit for those long road trips.
  • Keep poisonous plants such as mistletoe, holly and amaryllis away from children and pets.
  • Place your tree away from fireplaces and radiators.
  • Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or before you head out.
  • Never leave burning candles or a fire in the fireplace unattended.

And of course, don’t drink and drive! In 2017, there were over 200 car accident fatalities in the U.S. and alcohol impairment was involved in a third of those cases. To avoid injury or death, always make sure to have a sober driver available to take you home if you plan to drink at a party or gathering.

Subscribe icon
Get healthy living and wellness information, recipes and patient stories from University Health.
View other related content by:

Tell us your patient story

Share your inspiring personal story of hope and healing at University Health.