Holiday safety is low on the list of things pulling on our attention each year. However, some simple prevention measures can keep you with family and friends and out of the Emergency Department this holiday season.
“The holidays and winter months are some of our busiest times of the year,” said Liz Kracht, injury prevention coordinator at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “There’s more driving, more family gatherings and potential for risky weather conditions.”
Holiday safety tips to prevent falls
Many activities during the holiday season can increase the risk for falls. Hanging decorations, tripping on cords and winter weather all pose risks. When you are decorating, be mindful of electrical cords. Keep them hidden and out of reach to avoid tripping. Practice ladder safety. Place ladders on stable flat surfaces and have a spotter to help hold the ladder or call for help in case of a fall.
Clear walkways inside and out. Remove ice and snow and wear weather appropriate footwear. When you’re unsure of conditions or know it’s slippery, walk like a penguin. Inside, secure floor rugs or remove entirely when you have visitors. They can be a tripping hazard and older friends and relatives may have trouble navigating them.
Be cautious while driving
Car accidents are a common reason for visits to a trauma center each year. People are traveling to see family and friends during the holiday. Focus on driving, lower your speed and minimize distractions as you travel.
“We can do things to be safer drivers behind the wheel, like driving slowly and not drinking alcohol when you’re going to be driving,” Kracht said.
Kitchen injuries are holiday hazards
Burns and cuts from preparing meals are common reasons for visits to Emergency Departments. If you are responsible for cooking for holiday gatherings, practice caution during preparation. Give your full attention to your task when you are chopping, cutting and handling knifes. Keep these out of reach from children when not in use. Prevent yourself and others from accidentally knocking pots over by keeping pot handles away from the edge of the stove. Take your time as you are moving things in and out of the oven to avoid burns. Know what burners you have on and as a rule of thumb, keep flammable objects like towels, pot holders or even cutting boards away from the stove top.
Safety tips to prevent Christmas tree fires
House fires are a higher concern during the holiday season due to trees and lighting issues. Carefully picking, caring for and decorating your tree can go a long way toward keeping your holidays happy and safe.
Picking your tree: Make sure artificial trees are labeled or certified as fire retardant. With live trees, choose one with fresh, green needles that don’t fall off when touched. Cut 1-2 inches off from the base of the tree and water every day.
Make sure the tree isn’t blocking an exit and is at least three feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights that become hot. Use lights appropriate for indoor use that are in good condition. Read instructions of how many strands you can safely connect. Do not use candles. When your tree starts dropping needles, remove it from the house and dispose either through recycling program or place away from home or garage.