The holiday season can be both fun and stressful. There’s plenty of joy and festive spirit to go around when celebrating with your friends and family, but there are also aspects that can put a damper on holiday fun. Visiting out of town family members can cause logistical issues and decking out your house can cause safety hazards. With all the hustle and bustle, it’s not uncommon for injuries and illnesses to occur. In order to make the most out of the season, follow these nine tips to avoid common holiday injuries.
1. Watch Where You Walk
During the holidays there may be more obstacles to watch out for on the floor. This can lead to trips and falls that can strain muscles or even cause fractures. To avoid these common holiday injuries, there are steps you can take. Extension cords powering lights should be tucked away or taped down out of the way of foot traffic. Also, look out for decorations and presents that may be on the floor.
2. Climb Carefully
If you are putting lights or other decorations up in a high place that requires the use of a ladder, be careful when climbing. Pay attention to the steps you are taking and follow any instructions on the ladder regarding which rungs are safe to stand on. Always have another person to spot you and hold the ladder.
3. Lift with Your Legs
Avoid strains and other back injuries by being careful when lifting things. This includes handling luggage, moving large or heavy gifts, and removing boxes of decorations from storage. Stretch before you do any heavy lifting and never use your back muscles to do the majority of work. Using your leg muscles to lift and carry items is more effective and less likely to cause injury.
4. Prevent Burns in the Kitchen
If you are responsible for cooking for holiday meals or parties, practice caution around heat sources like the oven, stove, or fryer. Follow all safety guidelines and exercise the utmost caution if using a deep fryer to cook a turkey. Make sure you are aware of which burners on the cooktop are on and give tasks your full attention when they involve very hot surfaces. Be careful when checking and removing things from the oven to prevent getting burned on the rack. Avoid exposing your skin to steam, as steam burns are also a common injury. Be mindful of possible grease splatters when frying. Also, make sure that children are out of the way of the stove and oven and keep pot and pan handles turned inwards so they can’t pull them down.
5. Remove Choking Hazards
Be sure to keep choking hazards out of reach of children and pets. During the holidays, extra decorations may mean small knick-knacks are on display. Some people also put out candy or nuts in festive dishes. Throw candy wrappers away and if you have a small child, be aware of what they have access to. When gifts are exchanged, make sure any small toy parts are out of reach from young children. Also, look out for pets during this time who may be tempted to try and eat something bad for them like chocolate or LEGO bricks.
6. Pay Attention to Food Safety
Sharing food with family and friends is a big part of the holiday season. Whether it’s a Thanksgiving feast or a small holiday get together, make sure you follow food safety guidelines to avoid getting a food-borne illness.
If you are hosting or helping prepare food, make sure the kitchen surfaces are properly sanitized and that everyone washes their hands before handling food. Also be aware of cooking foods, especially meat and fish, thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria. The United States Department of Agriculture is a great resource to consult to ensure food safety.
7. Practice Fire Prevention
Christmas trees are major fire hazards during the holiday season. Make sure any lights you use on the tree are in good shape and keep the tree watered. If the tree dries out and starts dropping needles, it is even more flammable and it’s safest to get rid of it. Never leave lights plugged in, whether on the tree or not, when you leave the house or go to bed.
Other causes of holiday fires are open flames. Many holiday traditions from different cultures and religions involve candles. There are flameless LED versions of candles that are good alternatives, especially if you have children. If you do use real candles, then follow fire safety rules carefully. And if you like gathering around the fireplace, make sure the proper precautions are in place to contain the fire. The National Fire Protection Association has a guide to fire safety during winter holidays you can consult.
8. Watch Out for Electrical Hazards
Depending on where you store your holiday decor, things might not be in the same condition they were when you put them away. Before using decorations that use electricity, inspect them to make sure they are still safe to use. Light strands and other electric decorations can cause electrocution and fires. Don’t use anything that has frayed ends, exposed wiring, or loose connections. Make sure you don’t leave things plugged in too long or let extension cords and surge protectors overheat. And again, unplug any lights before you leave the house or go to bed.
9. Eyes on the Road
So many factors make driving during the holidays dangerous. There are more people on the road so traffic is often heavy, which can make accidents more common in the best of times. Add in possible wintery conditions and a rush to make it to family and friends and accidents become more likely.
To prevent accidents, there are many steps to take. Make sure you are well-rested and your car is in good condition for the trip. Pad your travel schedule to allow for possible traffic and avoid being in a rush. If there is ice or rain on the road, adjust for the conditions by using lights and wipers appropriately and reducing speed. Focus on driving and try to minimize distractions. And never text while driving or drive after drinking.
Make an Appointment
Despite your best efforts, accidents still happen. And when they do, we can help. South Shore Orthopedics strives to provide patients with the best care possible. Our doctors are trained in a variety of subspecialties, enabling us to treat a multitude of orthopedic injuries and conditions. To make an appointment, call (781) 337-5555, or request an appointment online.