Common Holiday Injuries and Safety Tips

With the holiday season approaching, our patients’ safety is a top concern for our team. Each year, a variety of holiday and winter-related activities cause injuries, and several thousand result in emergency room visits.

Whether you’re stringing lights and hanging wreaths, preparing a festive meal, traveling to see loved ones or heading out into some wintery weather, we want you to be have a safe and joyful season. Learn about common holiday injuries and safety tips below.

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

  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 15,000 holiday decorating injuries during November and December 2013.
  • The most commonly reported decorating incidents involved falls, lacerations and back strains.
    CPSC also reported 75,543 luggage-related injuries in 2013, which was an astounding increase of more than 20,000 from 2012.
  • Winter sports-related injuries are also problematic- particularly snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling and sledding. According to CPSC, more than 440,00 people were treated for winter sports-related injuries in 2010.
  • According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), cuts from carving turkeys are one of the top five most common injuries on Thanksgiving.

This time of year can often send people into a frenzied to-do list- causing caution and safety measures to be overlooked and musculoskeletal injuries to spike. While fall prevention should be top of mind year-round, it is especially important during the fall and winter seasons due to the increase in ladder usage.

Ladder Safety and Other Fall Prevention Pointers:

  • Always 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 if applicable, shoelaces should be securely tied (whether you are using a ladder or walking on slick surfaces).
  • Make sure the steps of the ladder are free of liquids, ice, dirt or anything that could interfere with your safety.
  • Place your ladder on a stable, level surface and use the 1-to-4 ratio rule. Set up your ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of ladder rise.
  • Consider ladder height and load capacity that is appropriate for your task. If you must use an extension ladder, having a spotter to secure the base may decrease risk of fall.
  • Position your ladder an appropriate distance from your work space. This is important when hanging or installing decorations, cleaning, or clearing snow or leaves from gutters and rooftops.
  • Having guests? High-traffic areas should offer clear pathways. Furniture, boxes, cords and clutter can cause easily prevented falls. Always secure rugs with slip-resistant backing or double-sided tape. Spills often happen during holiday gatherings- cleanup should happen swiftly to avoid slips and injuries.
  • Drinking and decorating/taking down decorations is not recommended.

Carving Safety Measures

Whether you’re carving a turkey, ham or roast (or serving a delicious slice of pie), knife safety is a big part of holiday safety. 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 simple tips:

  • Do not cut toward yourself. Place your free hand on the opposite side of which you are carving.
  • Make sure your cutting space is dry and well-lit.
  • Your cutting utensils should be dry, too.
  • Your cutting utensils should be adequately sharpened. Using extra force because of a dull blade could lead to injury (using an electric blade also helps!).
  • Do not allow young children to carve, cut or chop.

Luggage Lifting and Carrying

At this time of year, many of us are traveling. Whether you’re packing an overnight bag or you’re checking several bags, keep these safety tips in mind to avoid common neck, back and shoulder injuries.

  • Avoid luggage that is difficult to transport (wheels make traveling less challenging) and pack light.
  • Be careful when storing your bags in overhead compartments. Placing luggage on the seat first and slowly lifting with your legs can help prevent strain or sprain. Be sure to place your hands on each side of the bag and push the item in wheels-first.
  • While hurrying between connecting flights can be quite common, rushing with lifting or carrying heavy luggage can lead to injury. Avoid rushing to place bags in overhead compartments, and if you suspect that your suitcase may cause strain, check it or locate a luggage carrier.