As the old song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of year.” No matter how you and your family celebrate the holidays, your season is likely chock full of fun activities. But amidst all the smiles and laughter, a few dangers lurk. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the months from November to January are among the busiest for Emergency Departments and Urgent Cares.
This holiday season, keep you and your family safe, healthy, happy and out of the Emergency Room. Follow these tips from our expert, Javier Gonzalez, MD, FACEP, DABT a Board-Certified Emergency Physician, Clinical Toxicologist and the Medical Director with AdventHealth Dade City and AdventHealth Zephyrhills, for avoiding some of the most common holiday mishaps.
Be Careful When Decorating
According to Dr. Gonzalez, “Decorating both inside and outside your home can present certain dangers unless you take the proper precautions. Unsteady ladders and stepstools cause thousands of people to fall each year while decorating their homes and Christmas trees. Lifting heavy items high above your head can also cause muscle strains and pains.”
This year when you decorate, follow these tips:
- Ask for help when lifting heavy objects
- Always keep one hand on the ladder
- Ensure ladders are steady and locked open
- Have another person help secure your ladder
- Keep your body within the borders of the ladder
- Never stand above the second-highest rung
Concentrate When Cooking
The kitchen is another common spot for both holiday illnesses and injuries. “Knives can cause cuts and hot pans can cause burns. Unsafe, unsanitary practices can lead to the spread of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. Keep in mind, you’re at greater risk the more hurried you feel when preparing holiday dishes,” says Dr. Gonzalez.
This year, to safeguard yourself, your kitchen and your loved ones, you might try:
- Asking others to pitch in
- Having plenty of oven mitts ready
- Keeping small children away from ovens and stovetops
- Keeping the kitchen clear and clean
- Planning your meals and holiday parties in advance
- Practicing food safety, especially proper refrigeration and thawing of perishables
- Separating cooked and uncooked ingredients
- Sharpening your knives before use
- Staying focused on the task at hand
- Washing your utensils, surfaces and hands after touching raw meat
Traveling Home for the Holidays Safely
It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays and forget your normal routine. But for people with chronic conditions, this can spell trouble. Always be sure to pack your medications when you travel. If you do forget them, call your physician so they can send a prescription to a pharmacy near you.
Dr. Gonzalez says, “I remind my patients to remember to take their medications as they adjust to a new place and routine during their travels. If necessary, set alarms to take pills, check blood sugar levels, take walks and check in with how you feel.”
Continue to follow safe practices to avoid contracting a COVID-19 infection while traveling, like hand-washing and wearing a mask in public, especially in enclosed spaces like on airplanes.
Think Before You Eat
You should also be careful about what you eat. Overeating and drinking can lead to many health issues, from acid reflux to heart attacks. Stay safe by:
- Balancing your plate, eating half fruits and vegetables and half carbohydrates and meats
- Eating slowly and keeping your portions small
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Having a designated driver or using a ride-sharing service if need be
Unwrap With Care
Finally, even unwrapping gifts can present risks of cuts and lacerations, especially if they’re wrapped in thick plastic. “When using knives, box cutters or scissors, always be careful as you cut open objects. Be sure to stow sharp objects away and out of children’s reach when they aren’t in use so they don’t get lost in the wrapping paper,” Dr. Gonzalez recommends.
Have a Holiday Health Plan
Even the best laid out health and safety plans can go awry. That’s why it’s important you know the Emergency Department or urgent care nearest you just in case.
At AdventHealth, our Emergency and Urgent Care services provide convenient care for all levels of holiday emergencies. And, if you have a non-life- or limb-threatening emergency, we've made it easy for you to schedule an Emergency Room visit online and wait safely in the comfort of your home. Arrive at a pre-set time that’s convenient for you, and our ER experts will be ready to care for you. To find out more about InQuicker, visit GetInQuickER.com.