#2. Traffic Accidents
Take a sneezing, depressed, stressed out, unwell person and sit him behind the wheel of a deadly weapon. Then put him on a road with hundreds of other people who are also unhappy and unhealthy. What you get are some of the worst driving days of the year.
Obviously, there is the fact that the weather gets worse around Christmas, with snow and rain making driving more dangerous. And there are more people on the road than normal, which also leads to more accidents. But the thing that can really turn a silent night into a deadly night is the fact that people are assholes.
Sure, you probably can't take out all your holiday anger on your family without ruining Christmas, but you can scream at the guy who cut you off to your heart's content. Just keep in mind that there will be repercussions. Thanks to the fact that 32 percent of drivers become more aggressive around the holidays, the number of accidents increases almost 20 percent in the month of December, and that doesn't even include the fender benders in crowded parking lots that aren't reported.
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Or the many sleigh-related accidents.
With driving being so stressful, who could blame you for wanting to take the edge off with a cheeky drink before you hit the road? The fuzz, that's who. DUIs skyrocket between Thanksgiving and New Year's, with the number of drunk driving-related deaths and injuries nearly three times higher than during the rest of the year.
All this adds up to the fact that the six days around Christmas are 18 percent more dangerous than Thanksgiving (the busiest travel day of the year) and a whopping 27 percent more dangerous than New Year's Eve. It turns out that combining commuters who just want to get home and start their vacation, last minute shoppers, people stressed about the holidays, and all that extra holiday cheer (read: booze) is a recipe for disaster.
Just about everything you put up around your house for the holidays is ready to hurt you. Sure, those heirloom glass ornaments are beautiful, until one falls off the tree and you step on it with your bare feet. Cheap Christmas lights result in a shocking (booooo) number of electrocutions. And being on a ladder is dangerous at the best of times, even more so when you've been indulging in some eggnog and you refuse to take 10 seconds to move the ladder a couple feet, instead leaning over as far as you can to get those last few lights hung.
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Kids bounce. Make them do it.
This is yet another reason the emergency room is such a popular place over the holidays. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2012 there were 15,000 ER visits directly related to festive decorating, or 250 a day over November and December. And the number appears to be increasing every year, meaning we are not taking this killer holiday seriously enough.
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The only way to be sure.
Then there is the little issue of candles. Even people who would never have an open flame in the house at any other time of year probably light a candle or two around Christmas. And what better time to do so, considering you have what amounts to a pile of kindling standing in the corner. Even if you don't light candles, electrical problems are also common fire starters during the holidays. (It's those cheap lights again. You should have splurged on the fancy ones, Scrooge.) Between 2007 and 2011, an average of 230 major home fires a year started at the Christmas tree, resulting in deaths, injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage. And once again, not celebrating Christmas isn't necessarily a free pass. While they are less common, menorah fires totally happen as well. So the real miracle of Hanukkah might not be that the lamp burned for eight days, but that it didn't burn down the temple in the process.
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As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked's year in review because, well, we know you don't remember it half as well as you think.