According to orthopedic surgeon, Steven Hindman, MD, of Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS) in Greenwich and Stamford, a few simple precautions can help you and your loved ones avoid that fate and keep your holidays full of good cheer. Dr. Hindman said that while the hazards of choking on food, house fires from candles, and faulty strings of decorative lights are well-known, other, less publicized dangers can threaten the joy of the season as well.
Take Care When Climbing: When preparing for the holidays, take particular care about what you are climbing on to decorate or retrieve a special serving bowl from a high shelf. Tall ladders with handles and step ladders are a safer bet when objects are beyond your reach than a kitchen counter, a swivel chair, or a wobbly old ladder you pull out of the garage once a year, for instance. “I have seen horrible injuries from people climbing on unsafe things during the holidays,” said Dr. Hindman.
Keep Your Home Clear and Bright: Houseguests may be unaccustomed to having pets, children and their toys underfoot leading them to easily trip over the dog and break a wrist or twist an ankle stepping on a toy. Older family members are particularly vulnerable to falls if they get up during the night in unlit, unfamiliar hallways, Dr. Hindman warned. One wrong step could send them tumbling down the stairs, or crashing into a table or door jamb. Change of routine and medication schedules could further disorient elderly guests, who might experience dizziness and fluctuations in their blood pressure.
Steady as You Go: Distractions and alcoholic beverages can also pose perils. In the kitchen, divided and unfocussed attention can lead to hand injuries, burns and severe lacerations. Dr. Hindman noted, “More people are cooking and some people who don’t normally cook are preparing holiday meals, so we see an increase in the number of cut tendons and nerves in the hand.”
Reckless Youth: Young people home from college can become impetuous with the excitement of reuniting with old friends. Playing contact sports without the proper equipment, late night partying, and careless driving are common causes of holiday youth visits to the emergency room, Dr. Hindman warned.
The holidays are a time to be thankful for friends and family. Taking the proper precautions to make sure everyone stays safe during this time of year can be the greatest gift of all.