(WPRI) -- Christmas decorations can go from delightful to dangerous in mere seconds.
New numbers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission point to a recent increase in injuries related to holiday decorations.
If you trimmed your Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving, it's going to be up for more than a month, and that means it's going to eventually dry out, which can be extremely dangerous.
- Interactive: Holiday Fire Safety
In a matter of seconds, a too-dry Christmas tree can go up in flames.
"Consumers are buying them earlier and earlier, and that can cause problems," said CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum. "Often people are having such a great time during the holidays that they forget to water the tree, which can lead to a terrible fire."
In fact, the estimated number of incidents, including fires, has gone up from 12,000 in 2009 to 14,000 last holiday season.
"It's well worth our time to every year remind people they can have a safe holiday, or they can have a tragic holiday. The choice is theirs," added Tenenbaum.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates Christmas tree fires cost consumers as much as $19 million in property damage between 2008 and 2010.
"During the two-month holiday seasons last year, about 14,000 consumers were treated for injuries related to holiday decorating," said Tenenbaum. "This includes holiday lights, Christmas trees, candles, and ornaments."
A longer stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means even more caution is needed with live trees. In addition to keeping the tree stand filled with water, place the tree a safe distance from heat sources such as vents, radiators, and fireplaces.
Also, lights with broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections shouldn't be used on any tree.
"Every year we have to remind people of the hidden dangers in the holidays," Tenenbaum said. "Dangers when there tree dries out from fire, using candles and leaving them unattended, broken ornaments that can cause lacerations, and holiday lights that can be an electrical hazard, also a fire hazard."
For more information about decoration safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website.
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