Memorial Health - December 05, 2019

The holidays are a wonderful time of year but can also be a very dangerous time as well. Over the past 5 years during this season, the number of people involved in motor vehicle crashes has increased by over 78% and the number of people seriously injured by falls has increased by over 120%. Therefore, as you begin to decorate and celebrate during this season, consider these tips to stay injuryfree

- Dr. James Dunne, Medical Director of Trauma Services

November to mid-January can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also when injuries at the home and on the road spike. Here are some tips to stay injury-free throughout this festive season.

Decorate safely

About 15,000 people end up in the Emergency Room every year because of injuries sustained while decorating for the holidays (U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission). About 6,000 of these injuries are due to falls, usually when stringing up lights or taking them down (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even a short fall from a step-stool can lead to a serious injury. To avoid falls:

Don’t drink and decorate

Many decorating related injuries involve alcohol. Save the eggnog until after the decorations go up.

Don’t decorate alone

Someone should be around to assist or call for help in case you fall. If you have friends or family who are older, offer to help them.

Climb safely

Make sure none of the rungs are broken and that you are following the safety guidelines on your ladder. The rungs should all be dry and the ladder should be placed on solid, even ground. Use the 4-to-1 rule: for every four feet of height, move the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall. Always have someone hold the ladder steady for you.

Keep kids on the ground

Don't let kids climb ladders to put decorations up.

Don't forget to be safe when taking your decorations down, too.

Prevent fires

Fires kill about 400 people every year over the holidays and cause more than $990 million in damage (U.S. Fire Administration). Christmas trees are often the first thing to catch on fire. Prevent fires by:

Keep it fresh

If you are buying a live tree, make sure it is fresh (it should be green, not brown and needles and branches shouldn't break easily when you bend them) and keep it away from heat sources like air vents or fireplaces. If you are buying an artificial tree, look for a "fire resistant" label.

Watch the flames

Menorah and other holiday candles are among the top causes of fire-related injuries (National Safety Council). Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where they can be knocked over by kids or pets. Place candles away from materials that can catch on fire easily, like decorations, curtains, furniture, or Christmas trees. Be sure to blow out all candles before leaving the house or going to bed at night. Consider using flameless candles, especially if you have young children or pets.

Buy safe lights

Make sure the lights you are using have been approved by a safety testing laboratory. LED lights are a great energy-efficient choice and they run cooler.

Check your lights

Discard any light sets that have exposed or fraying wires, cracked bulbs, or any other damage.

Check the fireplace

Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year. Use a screen on the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning.

Celebrate responsibly

Most injuries over the holidays are caused by "alcohol and…" As mentioned earlier, hold off on the eggnog until after decorating or handling fire. Also, remember to have a designated driver if you are getting on the road after a celebration.

The holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, is the most dangerous time to be on the road. Every holiday season, lives are lost due to drunk or drugged drivers. Stay safe on the roads every day, especially the holidays, by:

Driving sober

Even if you've only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use a ride service to get home safely. Remember, buzzed driving IS drunk driving. Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Defensive driving

If you see a drunk driver on the road, keep a safe distance - do not try to pass them. Call the police so they can help keep our roads safe.

It is never okay to drink and drive.

Gift appropriately

Give gifts that kids will enjoy without causing injuries. More than a quarter of a million children were seriously injured in toy-related incidents in 2017. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Choose age-appropriate gifts

Check the age rating on toys. Toys are age-rated for safety, not for children's intellect and physical ability.

Watch out for choking hazards

Choose toys for children under 3 that do not have small parts which could be choking hazards. Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets, which can be harmful or fatal if swallowed.

Gift safety gear

When giving scooters and other riding toys, give helmets and other appropriate safety gear, too. Kids are going to want to try their new wheels out right away, so it's best to start them off with the safety gear they need, too

We wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Find a Doctor