For many people, the holidays are a positive, happy experience. Giving gifts, seeing family, eating delicious food and enjoying festive decorations are a seasonal delight. But for others, the holidays can turn into a stressful nightmare due to an accident or injury. Here are some of the most common accidents that healthcare providers see over the holidays.
Injuries while Shopping
One of the more frequent stories involves shoppers injured around holiday sales, most often on Black Friday. Icy roads and walking paths during the fall and winter are slipping hazards. Coupled with the mob-like behavior of frantic holiday shoppers, these conditions can lead to accidents.
Trips, slips, sprains and broken bones are all common injuries resulting from a jostling crowd of sale-hungry shoppers. In some tragic cases, there have been unbelievable stories of violence with angry shoppers harming one another. Consequently, healthcare providers should be alert to serious injuries that stem from holiday shopping.
Fire Risks and Burns
Another all-too-common injury seen over the holidays are burns related to cooking and accidental fires. With the chaos of the holidays and family visits, maintaining a cooking schedule and juggling kitchen duties can skyrocket the risk of burns.
Additionally, fireplaces and Christmas trees are high fire risks during this time of year. Not only is it dangerous to keep furniture or decorations near a roaring fireplace, but even leaving a Christmas tree by a heater or radiator can create a fire hazard.
Some patients experience burns from contact with overloaded electrical circuits. As a result, healthcare providers should anticipate a wide range of burns over the holidays, including scalding burns, electrical burns or burns from hot oil or grease.
Distracted Drivers and Poor Road Conditions
Bad weather has a major effect on drivers. An icy street can cause a car to unexpectedly lose control and crash, resulting in significant injuries. Road visibility can also be a big influence on the reaction time of drivers to avoid accidents.
Another danger during this time of year is distracted drivers. Many accidents are due to drivers distracted by cell phones or GPS devices, and traveling on unfamiliar local roads while visiting family. And, an increase in parties and social gatherings leads to more impaired drivers on the road. Injuries stemming from motor vehicle accidents are another common injury that healthcare providers see over the holidays.
Advice to Give to Patients
Patients may look to you for advice on how to stay safe over the holidays from these common injuries. Here’s what to tell them:
- Avoid bringing children on shopping trips, especially when there is a large hoard of shoppers. If you feel the need to attend a holiday sale, wait for the initial rush to subside and try to get in and out as fast as possible.
- Ask for help while preparing dishes so that you aren’t juggling so much. Make sure that heavy dishes of hot food are individually carried out of the kitchen.
- Avoid anything flammable near fireplaces, especially a tree with dried limbs. Also avoid keeping any boxes, presents or decorations nearby, as they are very prone to catching fire.
- Never overload an electrical circuit with your holiday lights.
- During bad weather, avoid driving until conditions have improved. If you need to drive, invest in snow tires or chains. Additionally, limit your alcohol consumption and stick to major roads. Always be aware of other drivers and their positioning on the road.
The holidays are hectic, and accidents are bound to happen. However, by anticipating the types of injuries that you’ll expect to see, healthcare professionals can be prepared for both minor and major holiday hazards.