The holidays are great times for friends and family to get together, but nothing ruins the fun faster than a mishap or injury that lands a loved one in the emergency room. The hazards of choking on food, house fires from unattended candles and faulty strings of decorative lights are well-known, but other less publicized dangers can threaten the joy of the season as well.
Dr. Steven Hindman has been the orthopedic specialist on call at Greenwich Hospital for numerous holiday seasons. He recently shared with the Greenwich Sentinel his list of simple precautions to have holidays full of good cheer and avoid emergency trips to the hospital.
Take Care When Climbing:
When preparing for the holidays, take particular care about what you are climbing on to decorate or to retrieve a special serving bowl from a high shelf. I have seen horrible injuries from people climbing on unsafe things at this time of the year. 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.
Keep Your Home Clear and Bright:
House guests may be unaccustomed to having pets, children and their toys underfoot. They can 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 try to find their way for a drink of water in unlit, unfamiliar hallways. 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 physical perils. In the kitchen, divided attention can lead to hand injuries, burns and severe lacerations. We typically see an increase in the number of cut tendons and nerves in the hand from accidents involving knives and slicers.
Young people home from college can become impetuous with the excitement of reuniting with old hometown friends. Playing contact sports without the proper equipment, late night partying, and careless driving are common reasons young people end up in the ER.
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.