PHOENIX - Every year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for holiday related accidents. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks are related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees.
One Valley woman knows these dangers first hand.
"I shouldn't be alive, and I most certainly should still be a quadriplegic," said Mozelle Williams of Phoenix.
She loves Christmas and had heard warnings about hanging too many fancy holiday lights.
"I was 65 and had done Jazzercise three times a week. I thought that was for when I turned 80," laughed Williams.
In 2010, while decorating her vacation home in Mexico, Mozelle's holiday display went from festive to frantic. She lost her balance and fell backwards off her roof onto her head.
"I knew instantly that I was paralyzed," Williams recalled.
She had suffered a serious spinal cord injury. As she awaited treatment in a makeshift medical unit in Mexico her health kept declining. 24 hours after her fall, she was flown from Mexico to St. Joseph's Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
"I think the biggest misconception, it's hanging Christmas lights anybody can do it," argued Nicholas Theordore, MD.
He performed Mozelle's surgery to decompress he spinal cord and says some of his patients have died from decorating disasters.
"Over the past 15 years I've had the occasion of taking care of hundreds of people who've had neurological injuries, brain injuries, spine injuries form doing something as simple as hanging Christmas lights," explained Dr. Theodore.
Medical experts remind you to be cautious. Hire someone if you have any doubts you can't safely spread holiday cheer.
"I certainly don't put up christmas lights," smiled Williams. "I'm waiting for my neighbors college son to come back and put them up."
After nearly three years of recovery and several surgeries Mozelle is grateful this holiday is bright.
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