The most wonderful time of the year can land you in a hospital or doctor’s office if you aren’t careful. For 2016, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) documented 18,400 injuries related to holiday decorating alone that required a visit to the emergency room. And the numbers only increase each year. According to the CPSC, about 200 people per day go to the emergency room during the three months surrounding the holiday season. While accidents will happen, many of these could be avoided by using smart safety measures.
5 Common Christmas-related Injuries
Here are some of the most common Christmas-related injuries, and what you should do to stay safe this holiday season.
The most common injuries are lacerations, ranging from minor to major. The spectrum is broad: cuts to the hand or feet from broken Christmas tree ornaments, cuts while using a knife or scissors to open gifts, cuts from knives while cooking, and deep gashes from using a chainsaw to cut down or prune a Christmas tree.
To stay safe, here are some tips to follow:
- If you are in a house with young children or active pets, avoid using sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations.
- It’s easy to rush or become distracted while cooking a big holiday meal. Take your time while cooking and pre-plan as much as possible to avoid added stress.
- Don’t try to cut down or trim too large of a tree. Have someone more experienced do it if you are not sure what you’re doing.
Hanging Christmas lights is the big culprit when it comes to electric shocks. It’s easy to overlook warning signs of defective lights if you’re not paying attention.
Examine each set of lights before you plug it in for signs of wear. Broken sockets and frayed wires are signs that the lights need to be thrown away immediately. (The same goes for extension cords.) In addition, verify that lights you intend to put outside are rated for outdoor use. Always use a grounded GFCI outlet.
Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains are especially common over the holidays, stemming from a myriad of situations. For example, lower back injuries due to lifting heavy objects (such as Christmas decoration boxes from the attic), ankle sprains from tripping over decorations or cords, and even muscle strains from excessive or wild dancing at holiday parties!
The key here: take it easy. A lot of strains and sprains happen because we are in a rush, distracted, operating out of our comfort zone, or under the influence of too much eggnog! Don’t do too much that you end up getting hurt.
Contusions and Scrapes
Many bruises and scrapes come from falls… and a notable amount are bumps to the head. Hanging up and taking down decorations are often the culprit here: 41% of holiday decorating injuries involve falls. Falls from ladders account for about half of these incidents. In young people, contusions and scrapes also come from playing on new toys, using sleds and toboggans, or engaging in other outdoor winter activities (like ice skating, skiing, or snowball fights).
To minimize the chances of falling, always be careful when standing on anything that is raised — not just tall ladders and roofs, but even just a short chair or stool. Make sure the object you are standing on is stable, and be sure to maintain your center of gravity while up there (in other words, minimize how much you have to reach or lean).
When kids have new toys, make sure they understand how to play with them safely before you send them off on their own. And when they’re outdoors, be sure it’s not so icy that it is unsafe for them to play.
Speaking of kids, young children are notorious for swallowing small objects (or putting them in their ears and up their noses). Small objects like Christmas light bulbs, ornament hooks, or decorations with small removable parts should be kept out of the reach of children. You should also avoid any decorations that look similar to actual food or candy.
A few extra safety measures can keep your season bright.
We love our patients, but we don’t want to have to see you this holiday season for injuries that could have been avoided! We want you to have a joyous and relaxing time celebrating with friends and family. But, if you should happen to sustain an injury, either from a rogue Christmas ornament, a rowdy Black Friday crowd, or a kitchen accident, we are here for you! Visit any one of our four urgent care clinics in Hampton Roads. We’ll be glad to take care of you.
Stay safe this holiday season!