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With the winter season comes beautiful decorations, the smell of fresh evergreens, and a surge in eye injuries. These, unfortunately, do not make for happy holidays. Most of these unhappy accidents take place in ways that you would never suspect. Young children who are excited by the flurry of activity frequently dart in and out of the action, putting them at risk. Awareness of the dangers will help keep you and your family safe this year and help you avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency ward.

The tree is the first unusual resident of your home during the season. Fresh trees are usually bundled up with twine to keep the limbs intact. When you cut the cord, the branches often snap outward with significant force. While it is mildly uncomfortable when they hit your hand, they can cause considerable damage if they hit your eye. Wear eye protection to avoid needless injury. Make sure children are not too close.

The ornate decorations used to dress the tree are often made from materials that can be painful at best and dangerous at worst. Tiny flakes of polyester painted with aluminum make up the glitter that brings sparkle to ornaments. Those tiny flakes tend to fall off when you touch them and have sharp edges that can scratch a cornea, especially if rubbed in. Angel hair is another hazard that is made of spun fiberglass. It is difficult to find, but it can be purchased online. If you do, remember to wear gloves and eye protection. Artificial snow is another item that is less popular than it once was, but it can be found if you look hard enough. The spray will irritate the eye, so use eye protection and follow directions carefully Old fashioned holiday decor is lovely, but not very safe for small children. The good news is that ornament manufacturers are making plastic alternatives that do not shatter when broken and eliminate the need to use some of the more dangerous materials.

Despite all precautions, sometimes accidents do happen. If you or someone in your family suffers from an eye injury, avoid rubbing the eyes. Do not attempt to remove a foreign body stuck in the eye. Run water over the eye for 15 minutes while someone calls for help in case of chemical irritation. If the eye is cut, cover it with a small paper cup to prevent additional damage. Seek medical attention.