It's only funny in the movies: The Griswolds suffer tree mishaps in 'Christmas Vacation' (1989).
Christmas isn't all joy to the world. In fact, it can be downright treacherous.

About 12,000 consumers are treated in hospital emergency departments nationwide due to holiday-related decorating incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Dried out Christmas trees result in an average of 17 deaths and $13 million in property damage annually. Candle-related residential fires cause about 150 deaths and $385 million in property damage.

"To prevent a holiday tradition from becoming a holiday tragedy, keep lighted candles in sight, check trees for freshness, and don't use lights with broken sockets or frayed wires,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Other tips for a safe winter holiday season:

Get a good tree: A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

Set it up right: Keep your tree away from fireplaces, vents, and radiators -- heated rooms rapidly dry out live trees. Keep the tree stand filled with water. Be careful not to not block doorways.

Get the right fake: Make sure your artificial tree is labeled, "Fire Resistant."

All the trimmings: In homes with small children, avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations or small removable parts that could cause a choking hazard.

Light it up: Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree.

Night lights: When using lights outdoors, make sure they're certified for outdoor use. Plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.


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