Death By Christmas Decoration

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The Philadelphia Inquirer - November 29, 2010

A 59-year-old Washington Township died Sunday after he fell from the roof of his house while putting up Christmas lights, authorities said today.

The man, whose name was not released, was found unconscious in the driveway of his home in the Sewell part of the Gloucester County township when police officers arrived shortly after 5 p.m., Washington Township Capt. Richard Leonard said.

The man, who suffered head trauma, was pronounced dead Sunday at Kennedy University Hospital in the township, Leonard said The man, who was putting up the holiday lights by himself, had used a ladder to climb to the roof of his two-story Shire Drive residence and fell at some point, Leonard said. "It appears to be a freak accident," Leonard said.

Leonard said he doesn't recall the last time a township resident died in a fall while putting up holiday decorations, but said it is a rare occurrence.

It may be a "rare" occurance in Washington Township but in the U.S., more than 12,000 people are treated in the nation's emergency rooms each year due to falls, cuts, electrical shocks and burns from faulty holiday decorations or accidents that occur while putting decorations up. In the UK, more than 80,000 people need medical treatment over the 12 days of Christmas for injuries received in the home. 

"The holiday season is a hectic time for all of us, filled with activities and errands, and many people pay less attention to safety and end up in the emergency department," said Dr Brian Keaton, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "The nation's emergency physicians urge people to take a little extra time and care as they go about enjoying the holidays."

Safety is not just a work thing . . . it's a living thing!! During the holiday season with all the stress, tight schedules, crowds, extra work etc, take extra caution and STOP . . . take 5 minutes for safety and think about the activites you'll be doing. Think about the possible risks of what you're doing . . . whether it's your regular job or hanging up Christmas decorations . . . we must be vigilant to ensure we're around for the holiday celebration.

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