How to avoid holiday decorating disasters

Ajsa Nikolic, MD, MHA / Guest Contributor

Each year, urgent cares and emergency rooms across the country see a significant up-tick in visits during the holiday season. Here's a few recommendations for staying safe and accident free while filling your home with cheer.

Whether you are decorating your tree and the inside of your home or tackling the outside with lights and ornaments, keep in mind that safety comes first so you don't end up with a visit to the emergency room or urgent care. Common decorating accidents include: cuts, falls, burns, and broken bones.

These 4 tips can help you stay injury-free and healthy as you turn your home into a winter wonderland:

Lift Smart

For many people, the holidays mean carrying boxes of ornaments and decorations out of storage, not to mention the massive trees that we haul into our living rooms. It is important we employ proper lifting techniques while setting up our holiday tree or placing heavy decorations on the gutter or roof.

When lifting heavy objects, protect your body through good postures like these:

--Keep a wide base of support.

--Bend at the hips and knees ONLY, keeping your back straight, chest out and shoulders back.

--Slowly lift with your hips and knees without twisting or jerking.

--Set down your tree or boxes gently, bending at only the knees and hips.

Practice Ladder Safety

When using a ladder to put the finishing touches atop your tree and especially as you try to hang decorations on higher places outside such as in trees or on a roof line. Keep balanced and injury free by taking a few easy precautions:

--Inspect the ladder for damage, reading all labels and markings.

--Do not use the top rung of the ladder.

--Do not place the ladder on boxes, chairs or any items other than the floor.

--Wear slip-resistant shoes with clean soles to maximize traction.

--Face the ladder, and have two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps at all times.

--Keep focused, climb slowly and avoid sudden movements.

--Recruit a family member or friend to serve as an assistant and pass decorations to you – this will help keep your hands free when climbing

Watch for Cuts

You should always wear gloves when decorating with light bulbs or ornaments that are breakable. Both can cause either minor or deep cuts that could require stitches. It is also advisable to wear closed-toe shoes to avoid stepping on breakable objects.

Fire and Burn Prevention

Though not common, holiday tree fires can cause serious injury, property damage and even death. The following tree maintenance should be carefully followed to avoid a potential tragedy:

--Choose a fresh tree that isn't dried out.

--Use a tree stand with a wide base to avoid your tree falling over.

--Be sure that any lights put on the tree are low energy and low heat while also ensuring that there are no frayed or damaged cords.

Do not overload power strips or electrical circuits.

--If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it is marked as being flame resistant.

--Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Remember, the holidays are a whole lot more fun when you and your family are happy, healthy and safe.

Contributed by Ochsner