Ho Ho—Oh no! This holiday season, beware of these common injuries

With all the merry and bright of the holiday season, the potential for injury also increases. Whether you’re stringing lights, topping your tree with that heirloom angel, preparing a festive meal, traveling to see your family, or heading out into a wintry mix complete with slick roads, we want to keep your holidays as happy as you deserve! The best gift you can give yourself (and your loved ones!) this season is an incident-free Christmas. Here’s what you need to know:

What are some of the most common injuries during the holidays?

A 2016 report from The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)estimates the following holiday decoration-related emergency room-treated injuries nationwide during the holiday season:

  • 14,700 holiday decorating related ER-treated injuries. That’s an average of about 240 injuries per day during the holiday season from November through December!
  • The most frequent holiday decorating incidents involved falls (41%), lacerations (10%) and back strains (5%).
  • 3 deaths involving ladder falls.

‘Tis the season of last-minute to-dos and “gotta-get-it-dones” that often cause folks to overlook safety precautions, which can mean a spike in injuries. While fall prevention should be a priority all year long, it’s especially important during the holiday season with ladder usage at an all-time high.

Ladder Safety Steps and Other Fall Prevention Pointers

  • Check your ladder for broken hinges or rungs and loose screws.
  • Wear proper footwear. Your shoe soles should have adequate grip, a secure fit, and shoelaces should be tied securely (this applies to whether you’re using a ladder orwalking on slick surfaces).
  • Make sure the steps of the ladder are dry and completely free of liquids, ice, dirt or anything that could interfere with your safety.
  • Place your ladder on a stable, level surface. Be sure to use the 1:4 rule. Set up your ladder 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet of ladder rise.
  • Consider ladder height and load capacity appropriate for what you’re doing. If you have to use an extension ladder, make sure to have a spotter to secure the base!
  • Avoid drinking while decorating/taking down decoration.

Carving Safety Measures

Whether you’re carving a turkey, ham, or roast (or serving a delicious slice of your MeeMaw’s pie), knife safety is essential! The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) reports that hand injuries during the holidays are also caused during meal clean-up, resulting in tendon and nerve injuries from lacerations. Here are some easy-to-follow feast prep rules:

  • Always cut away from yourself. Place your free hand on the opposite side of which you are carving.
  • Make sure your cutting space and cutting utensils are dry.
  • Your cutting utensils should be adequately sharpened. If possible, an electric blade is recommended so that you don’t have to apply excessive force.
  • Never allow young children to carve, cut, or chop.

Luggage Lifting and Carrying

During the holidays, many of us stay on the go! Whether you’re packing an overnight bag, checking several bags, or loading a suitcase in the trunk, keep these safety tips in mind to avoid common neck, back, and shoulder injuries.

  • Avoid luggage that’s tough to transport (wheels are your friend!) and pack light.
  • Be mindful when storing your bags in overhead compartments. Always lift with your legs to prevent strain or sprain. Be sure to place your hands on each side of the bag and push the item in wheels-first.
  • Whether you’re rushing to catch that connecting flight or tossing a suitcase in your vehicle’s trunk or backseat, handle with care! Take time to gently place your luggage to avoid straining your neck, shoulders, or back.

What to do if you HAVE suffered an injury during the holiday season

Regardless of how busy the holiday season may be, your health should always be a priority! If you’ve suffered a slip-and-fall, muscle strain, or some other injury, be proactive in seeking assistance from the experts. At Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons in Birmingham, you’ll find a wealth of spine, joint, and muscle experts ready with solutions to whatever injuries may ail you currently. From in-house physical therapy and pain management to surgical and nonsurgical solutions, you’ll find a deeply local, deeply dedicated team of friendly, knowledgeable medical professionals ready to help you get back to feeling your best!

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