The holidays are a time to eat great food and create memories with the people you care about the most. With so much going on, the holidays also present a lot of opportunities for accidents to happen.
Tripping and Falling
Everybody trips from time to time, but presents and extension cords create more obstacles than you might normally have around the house. Tripping or falling can lead to cuts, scrapes, or broken bones, and even severe head injuries.
Keep walkways clear and avoid putting things on or near your staircase to prevent tripping. Never carry something that obstructs your view of where you’re going. There is no need to carry all of the presents downstairs at once. Make multiple trips. If you spend time outside on icy driveways, be sure to wear shoes with rubber soles that will prevent you from slipping.
Injuries often occur from falling off of ladders while decorating your home or Christmas tree. The American Ladder Institute recommends that you always inspect your ladder to make sure it is in good condition before using it. When setting it up, place it on firm, level ground. Never set up a ladder in front of a door. When climbing, maintain at least three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand should always be touching the ladder.
Scalding or Burning Your Skin
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy to collide and burn yourself or someone else. Scalding water and hot pots and pans can easily create serious injuries. Communicate with other people in the kitchen and always remember to take proper safety precautions, like using pot holders and oven mitts.
If you like to fry your turkey, there are some important safety tips to keep in mind. First, always fry your turkey outdoors, away from anything that could catch on fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the oil in a turkey fryer is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s enough to cause third degree burns almost instantly if it comes into contact with skin. Place the fryer on a solid and level surface and never overfill it with oil. Keep children and animals away from the fryer to prevent accidents.
Fires & Electrocution
Fires are one of the most common, dangerous, and potentially expensive accidents during the holiday season. All of the major winter holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa involve candles or lights. You can find flameless candles at most major grocery stores and big box retailers. If possible, avoid candles entirely inside your home. If you’re going to light real candles, it is important to follow general fire safety rules to the letter. Keep candles out of reach of children or animals and anything that could catch on fire. Never leave a candle burning when you leave the room. Learn more about candle safety at the National Fire Protection Association website, nfpa.org.
Christmas trees are another major source of fires during the holidays. Before you purchase strands of lights, make sure that they have been lab tested and marked with the proper safety certification marks for your application. These include CSA, UL, or ETL. Inspect all of your lights and decorations each year before you put them up. There should never be any exposed wiring, frayed ends, or loose connections. Replace any burned out bulbs with new bulbs of the proper wattage. Keep an eye on extension chords and surge protectors to make sure they don’t overheat. Most importantly, never go to bed or leave your home with your lights still running. The NFPA recommends that when your tree begins to dry out and drop needles, it is time to get rid of it. Otherwise, it’s a dangerous accident waiting to happen.
Food-Borne Illnesses and Poisoning
Just because your grandma makes the best stuffing you’ve ever had doesn’t mean that she is necessarily doing everything safely in order to prevent food-borne illnesses like salmonella or botulism. Maintaining a clean kitchen environment and handling food properly is extremely important. Simple things like not thawing a turkey correctly or forgetting to wash the counter with hot, soapy water can lead to serious illness. Nothing ruins a family gathering like food poisoning.
Here are some food safety tips from the FDA. Follow these guidelines to make sure everyone stays happy and healthy at your holiday gathering.
Accidental poisoning during the holidays is also more common than you might think. Seasonal plants including mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry, and amaryllis are poisonous to both humans and animals. Keep them out of reach of children and pets or, better yet, go for the plastic replicas instead.
Children and animals always manage to scout out forbidden items. During the holidays, there are probably a lot more knickknacks around the house than usual. Ornaments, decorations, candy wrappers, and small toy parts are all choking hazards and should be kept away from children and pets at all times.
Be sure to remind your family and friends of these dangers as well. Some people may not have children or pets, and might not think about these kinds of safety issues on a regular basis. It may not be a bad idea to familiarize yourself with how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on children, dogs, and cats, just in case.
More people travel during the holidays than any other time of the year. There are also consistently more automobile accidents during the holidays. If you live in or are traveling to some of the colder states, you may run into snow or ice. If at all possible, avoid driving in bad weather, or at least wait until the salt trucks and snowplows have had a chance to clear the roads. If you don’t have a choice, here are some important safety tips to keep in mind.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can drive normally in icy or snowy weather. Slow down and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you in case you need to stop or get out of the way. Never use cruise control while driving on snow or ice. Instead, use your accelerator and your brakes gently in order to avoid skidding. Bridges, overpasses, and side roads are more difficult to drive on than major highways due to black ice. For more safety tips for driving in winter weather, visit weather.com.
Neck and Back Injuries
Are you planning on visiting family or friends for the holidays? If so, you will probably be bringing some luggage along with you. In order to avoid injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that you pack lightly and always bend at the knees when lifting. Never bend at the waist or twist when lifting or carrying your bags. If something is too heavy, ask for help or pack in smaller bags that are easier to carry.
Staying home to host the holidays presents its own unique challenges. Carrying Christmas trees, bringing in groceries, and shoveling snow are also good ways to hurt your neck or back. Before you begin shoveling, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that you stretch to warm up your muscles. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Find a shovel that is the right size for you and space your hands out so that you are using your arms, not your back. Push the snow instead of lifting it. Keep your back straight and always lift with your legs.
Despite your best efforts, accidents still happen. Whether it’s a broken bone, cut, or burn, FastMed Urgent Care can help. If you’re located in North Carolina or Arizona, please consider visiting one of our walk-in clinics, right in your neighborhood. In most cases, we’ll have you in and out in less than an hour. If you want to speed up the process even more, check-in now with ZipPass and we’ll be ready for you when you arrive.