Holiday Safety Series:  Avoiding Personal Injury

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img_1316By Terry Rogers

The holidays are a joyous, happy, exciting time for many people with bright, twinkling lights, decorated trees and new, innovative toys on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, during the holidays, many people forgo common safety practices that can cause injury or property damage, This series will provide tips on fire, health, financial safety as well as how to keep yourself from being a crime victim during the holidays. 

According to Deborah Eberly, RN, BSN, CEN, CNML, the Trauma Program Manager at Bayhelth, the most common injuries seen during the holidays are due to falls that lead to fracture or sprains. Ms. Eberly says that the number of automobile accidents is also increased during the holidays as there are more people on the roads. Although most auto accidents are minor, some can cause serious injury and even death, so Ms. Eberly recommends driving defensively throughout the holiday season. Falls sometimes occur while decorating and Ms. Eberly says there are ways to protect yourself from injury while decorating for the holidays.

“When decorating any outdoor area, make sure you have the right sized ladder for the job,” Ms. Eberly said. “You shouldn’t be using a small ladder and reaching to hang decorations. It is also good to wear shoes with traction and make sure your ladder is secure. Avoid using a ladder on days with high wind or days where it is rainy or icy.” Another tip is to avoid stacking boxes above your line of vision and to take multiple trips when bringing decorations out of the attic, basement or garage. Stacking boxes so high you cannot see where you are walking increases your risk of falling.

On Christmas morning, Ms. Eberly says that toys that require balance, coordination or stamina tend to cause the most injuries. Scooters, bicycles, skateboards and hoverboards are some of the items given as gifts on Christmas morning that have led to emergency room trips for some families.

“Certain toys warrant protective gear, such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads,” Ms. Eberly said. “Face shields may even be necessary, especially if you are giving or getting a gift like a paintball gun. One rule of thumb is that if Santa brings a bicycle, he should also bring a helmet and other protective gear.” Ms. Eberly reminded parents that toys with small pieces can also be a choking hazard so be sure that the toys given are age appropriate for the child who will be the recipient.

Both children and adults are at equal risk for injury during the holidays. Children may not be experienced on a bicycle or scooter which can lead to accidents and injury. As we age, balance and coordination worsen, so a parent who attempts to try out a hoverboard, skateboard or bike could suffer an injury from falling. Anyone using a bike or scooter should wear safety gear, parents included. Not only does this protect the parent from injury, it sends a message to the children that they must wear the gear at all times.

Alcohol is another factor in injury during the holidays and Ms. Eberly says that people need to use common sense when it comes to holiday cocktails.

“Anyone consuming alcohol needs to be sensible,” Ms. Eberly said. “Everyone should have a designated driver or alternative transportation plan in place. If you are hosting a party, you should monitor alcohol consumption. High protein foods slow the intoxication process. You can serve a cold cut tray with cheese, for example, to help slow the process. However, salty foods can speed up the intoxication process, so limit the amount of chips and pretzels you serve.”

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