Methodist Healthcare - November 21, 2020

Avoid these holiday hazards to stay safe and merry this season

While holiday traditions may look a bit different this year, we encourage everyone to celebrate safely. Each year, emergency rooms throughout the country see a seasonal spike of common accidents during the holidays. There are a few things you can do to enjoy your holidays and avoid the ER:

Cuts and lacerations

Whether you’re just starting to decorate the house, wrap presents or host your annual get together, be sure to take precautions to avoid cuts and lacerations:

  • Handle all glass carefully
  • Avoid using sharp or breakable decorations if you’ve got small children or pets
  • Never use sharp objects such as razor blades or pocket knives to open gifts
  • Keep scissors and tape dispensers out of reach from small children
  • Practice proper knife safety in the kitchen - do not cut towards yourself, use adequately sharpened knives and ensure your cutting space is dry

Trips and falls

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), approximately 5,800 people are treated at the ER for falls associated with holiday decorations every year. Over half of the injuries are related to falls from ladders and roofs while decorating. Follow these tips to steer clear of the ER:

  • Hide and secure cords to avoid trip hazards
  • Avoid decorating-related falls by using the buddy system when you’re on a ladder - have an adult hold the ladder steady at the bottom
  • Clear the area around the top and bottom of the ladder
  • Place the ladder on secure and level ground before stepping on it
  • Position the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of length
  • Stay centered on the rungs of the ladder and keep both feet on the ladder at all times - if you need to reach something to the right or left, move the ladder
  • Never stand on the top two rungs of the ladder
  • To reach a roof, extend the ladder at least three feet above the roof’s edge
  • When using a stepladder, make sure it’s locked open securely and never use a folding stepladder when it’s closed

Motor vehicle accidents

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 1-54. During the Coronavirus pandemic we saw a decrease in traffic within our community. As the holidays near, lines of vehicles waiting for the stoplight to change, break lights of cars bumper to bumper on the highway and people driving around-and-around the parking lot to find the closest parking space are all expected. This holiday season, follow these tips to prevent being in a motor vehicle accident:

  • Be patient and leave yourself time. Don’t rush.
  • Determine your route in advance.
  • Avoid distractions, such as talking on the phone, texting or playing with the radio.
  • Monitor your surroundings and drive defensively. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

Overindulgence

‘Tis the season for festivities and tasty food. Temptations are everywhere from the fancy holiday packaging at the grocery store to the family feasts with an abundance of alcohol and rich dishes. Not only does overindulgence affect those with existing health conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions, but those otherwise-healthy individuals can develop a temporary irregular heartbeat, known as heart arrhythmias. Research shows that this occurs so frequently around the holidays that it is referred to as the holiday heart syndrome.

Depression

While the holidays can be the most wonderful time of year, for many people it can be a time filled with pain due to the loss of a loved one, loneliness, enhanced stress and anxiety – also known as the holiday blues. These challenges can make the holiday season difficult, resulting in visits to the ER for attempted suicide, panic attacks and substance abuse. This holiday season, be kind to yourself and know that you are not alone:

  • Reach out to friends, family or a medical professional
  • Pursue healthy habits, including nutritious holiday meals, exercise, get outdoors and take in the sun, journal, etc.
  • Set realistic expectations of what your holidays can look like

COVID-19 precautions

After months of lockdown and isolation, many people have become less stringent on how they are protecting themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. Do your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:

  • Wear a mask: Wearing masks or face shields can help protect the spread of potentially infectious respiratory droplets
  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands thoroughly, especially if you’ve been traveling
  • Social distance: Celebrate virtually and if you do get together with friends and family limit the number of attendees to allow for those who live in different households to remain socially distanced (6’ apart)
  • Consider the environment and duration of time you are around others

Avoid these holiday health fails so that you can stay safe and merry this season. We know you don’t plan to have an emergency over the holidays. But, it doesn’t hurt to plan in case one occurs. Find your neighborhood ER today and know where to go in an emergency.

In the event of a life threatening emergency, call 911. If you or a loved one are experiencing a non-life-threatening emergency and are unsure of whether to visit the emergency room, Call-A-Nurse (CAN). We have phone lines staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week with registered Methodist Healthcare nurses ready to help you and your family.

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