The winter holidays should be a source of joy, not pain, yet they are too frequently a source of injury. The added activity associated with the holidays can result in slips, falls, strains, and other unpleasant memories – certainly not the reason for the season.
Let’s examine the risks associated with a common holiday activity: putting up decorations. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with about half of the incidents involving falls. During the 2018 holiday season alone, about 17,500 people were treated in emergency rooms for holiday decorating-related injuries. In 2019, six people died from those injuries.
Improper ladder use is frequently to blame. Remember to read and follow all safety labels – don’t stand on the top step of a ladder, or the stabilizing platform if there is one. Make sure the ladder is near enough to where you’re hanging the lights or decorations that you don’t have to stretch to reach, which could cause the ladder to become unbalanced and you to become seriously injured.
If you’re hanging lights, don’t use them if you see frayed wires or broken bulbs. In addition, use extension cords wisely. Too often they can turn into dangerous tripping hazards, so make sure they’re clearly visible and taped down. 2,000 people end up with lacerations and sprains every winter from tripping over extension cords – don’t be one of them!
If you observe Christmas and erect a tree, do it safely. Trees can be heavy – not to mention the boxes of ornaments – so remember to practice safe lifting. Use your legs, not your back, to lift heavy loads, and ask for help if you have to strain to carry something. A pulled back muscle is not just painful; it may well prevent you from doing any more decorating!
Finally, if you live in an area that experiences ice, take the proper precautions. Wear stable shoes, don’t carry too much when walking over potentially icy terrain, and simply watch where you’re going. During the holidays it’s easy to become distracted by scenery, obligations, and crowds, but all of those can make it easier for you to slip, fall, and end up with a painful and debilitating injury.
Strains and sprains are the second most common type of holiday injury. Inconvenient and painful, they’re the opposite of what you want during the season of good cheer. Following the above tips will help keep you and your family safe, but should you find yourself in need of treatment please connect with PPOA via social media or your local clinic.