Holiday Hazards

Stay safe & injury-free this season

Decorating for the holidays can be fun for the entire family! However, many household items during the holiday season are dangerous and require extra supervision – especially in homes with young children.

Follow these safety tips to keep your holidays Merry, Safe & Injury-free:

Holiday Hazards

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 160 holiday decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season.

During the 2022 holiday season (November 1, 2021 – January 31, 2022), more than 14,000 people were treated in hospital emergency departments due to holiday decorating-related injuries. 

  • If you or a member of your family are sick, stay home and use the appropriate level of care.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Keep potentially poisonous holiday plants and decorations (including mistletoe and holly berries) away from children.
  • Ensure your home’s Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms are working properly.
  • Make sure your fresh holiday tree has plenty of water.
  • Look for the “Fire-Resistant” label when buying an artificial holiday tree.
  • Never string together more than three sets of incandescent lights, and never overload electrical outlets.

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); National Safety Council (NSC)

Be Firewise!

Protect young children from burns in the home. Every day, more than 400 children are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries. Unattended cooking is a leading factor in cooking fires and fire-related deaths, in addition to heating and electrical sources around the home.

Take Precautions:

  • Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of reach of children.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Never hold a child while drinking hot liquids.
  • Do not leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended.
  • Many ordinary items in a home—including bath water, food and electrical outlets—can cause burn-related injuries.

Cook Safely:

  • When cooking, keep pot handles turned inward on the stovetop and away from the edge of the stove.
  • Check on food regularly while cooking—never leave cooking food unattended on the stove or in the oven.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Always use a timer.
  • Remove flammables such as towels, oils, and food packaging away from the stove top.

Sources: HIPRC Burn Safety; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); Seattle Fire Department

Fall Prevention

Falls are the primary cause of injury among older adults. More than one in four adults (age 65 and older) fall each year. Over 40% of holiday decorating-related injuries involve falls.

Be prepared this winter:

  • Wear proper footwear. Be sure you have a pair of lightweight boots with good support. You also can purchase snow grips for the bottoms of your shoes or boots.
  • Take your time. Do not hurry while walking outside. Pay attention to your steps and walk slowly.
  • Use assistance. Always use handrails or a walking stick, walker or cane when out in winter weather.
  • Take small steps. Small steps, from side to side, help you maintain your center of gravity. Take small steps and waddle a bit like a penguin.
  • Have your eyes checked. Make a vision appointment to see an eye doctor at least once a year.
  • Remove trip hazards. Secure rugs and other potentially dangerous items around the home.
  • Add lighting. Make sure walkways and areas around the home are properly lit.
  • Use precaution. When going outside, remember that sidewalks and stairs may be slippery.

Sources: HIPRC Fall Prevention; Mayo Clinic Health System

Toy Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2022 Calendar Year report for Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries highlights the importance of safety when buying and playing with kids’ toys – even for older children.

In 2022, CPSC reported there were 11 deaths and an estimated 145,500 emergency department-treated (ED) injuries associated with toys for children 12 years and younger.  

The majority of deaths reported were attributed to choking or asphyxiation associated with small parts, balls, or balloons.

Among the ED-treated injuries, non-motorized scooters accounted for 35,400 injuriesthe largest share of injuries across all age groups. Non-motorized scooters also accounted for one in every 5 toy-related injuries for children 14 years and younger.

Use Precaution & Gift Toys Safely:

  • Read age and safety labels.
  • Inspect all toys regularly.
  • Get safety gear, including helmets, for scooters and other riding toys – and make sure that children use them every time
  • Keep small balls and toys with small parts, that may become a choking hazard, away from children three years and younger.
  • Be cautious of toys with button batteries and magnets.
  • Keep deflated balloons away from children eight years and younger.
  • Once the gifts are open, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous playthings.

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); American Public Health Association (APHA)

Make Time for Yourself

The holidays can be stressful. A survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 64 percent of individuals living with a mental illness reported that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

Whether due to separation from loved ones, personal grief, the pressures of gift-giving, economic hardship, challenging interactions with family members, or shorter days—this time of year can bring unique behavioral health challenges.

As we approach a holiday season, it is important to remember that it is very common to feel stress. This can worsen symptoms of a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, or a substance use disorder.

Make yourself a priority:

  • Take care of your BODY
    • Focus on sleep.
    • Spending time outside, getting Vitamin D.
    • Stay active, move your body.
  • Take care of your MIND
    • Take a few deep breaths.
    • Take a break from news or social media.
    • Celebrate large and small successes.
  • Focus on your CONNECTIONS
    • Connect with people for support.
    • Volunteer for a cause you care about.
    • Get involved with a sports team, school activity or a religious or spiritual organization.

Check-in with Others

Offer support to friends, family & others in need:

    • Check-in regularly with kids and adults.
    • Ask open-ended questions.
    • Listen to their feelings.
    • Seek help if needed.

Sources: HIPRC Suicide Prevention; HIPRC Mental Health Awareness; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

CO Poisoning

CO Poisoning is entirely preventable. It is important to protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to prevent it from occurring in your home.

CO Poisoning is an illness that occurs from breathing in Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas. Exposure commonly occurs during the winter due to unvented, kerosene, and/or gas fueled space heaters.

CO gas can also leak from appliances that use oil, wood, gas, and/or coal including:

  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Gas Log Burners
  • Ceiling-mounted Heating Units
  • Heating Furnaces
  • Barbecue Grills
  • Gas Fueled Generators
  • Wood Burning Fireplaces
  • Clogged Chimneys
  • Vehicles (with engine left running in enclosed space, such as garage)
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Fires

Use Precaution:

  • Never use a gas oven or portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, and/or garage less than 20 feet from windows, doors or vents.
  • Install CO detectors near each separate sleeping area.
  • Get the chimney, furnace, and other appliances serviced regularly.

Learn more at HIPRC Burn Safety >>

Sources: HIPRC Burn Safety; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Prevent Fires

As you deck the halls this holiday season, Be Firewise! A small fire that spreads to a holiday tree can grow large very quickly.

Each year, electrical distribution and lighting equipment attribute to holiday tree fires. Nearly one in five holiday tree fires are started by lamps or bulbs, and eight percent are started by candles.

Carefully decorating your home can help make your holidays safer!


If you do have a tree leftover from the holidays, give it a new life as wood chips or compost! And, you’ll help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Learn how and where to recycle your holiday tree using King County’s website > > here


  • Private and public facilities: Some community groups may offer tree collection or drop-off services. Also view the tree-cycling/yard waste recycling options listed on the King County’s What Do I Do With…? website or the Tree Recycling Options flier (updated December 2023): English | Español

Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ; King County, WA

Prevent Winter Injuries

Despite the beauty of winter, as temperatures dip it can be uncomfortably cold and dangerous!

Use precaution when heading outdoors to:

  • Play in Snow 
  • Shovel Snow
  • Sled, Ski, Snowboard (or other winter activity)
  • Drive a Vehicle or Snowmobile
  • Travel

Learn more at HIPRC Winter Safety >>

Visit our Digital Resource Center to learn more about Holiday Hazards — plus, more injury and violence prevention topics year-round!