Tis the season for family, food and fun, but a holiday accident can cut the good times short if you’re not careful.
During the holiday season, emergency rooms across the country see an increase in patients who suffer seasonal injuries that could have been easily avoided. The key is to be mindful and aware of dangerous situations, and to keep your surroundings and behaviors as safe as possible.
Dr. Rahul Sharma, the Emergency Physician-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital sees more than his share of holiday-related accidents come through the emergency department during this time of year, and was happy to weigh in on what to watch out for this season.
Here’s your guide to a safe, happy holiday.
Put Down That Hot Gravy! (Kitchen Injuries Are No Joke)
The kitchen is the focal point of the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s where all of the magic happens. While grandma is cleaning the greens and dicing up the ingredients for the stuffing, keep an eye out for moments where distractions can lead to injuries. Without a plan or early preparation, the kitchen can become chaotic and dealing with hot grease and cutlery while stressed could lead to mistakes. “Things that we see are cuts to the fingers while cutting vegetables,” says Dr. Sharma. “We also see many burns from the stove, as well as sometimes even people spilling hot beverages, or even hot gravy on themselves. This happens because people are trying to multi-task. You have a lot of family members at home. People are waiting for food. You want to do five things at one time and sometimes people get distracted. One recommendation I always have is to try to do things and not be distracted and don't try to multitask when you're in the kitchen.” Early food-prep can cut down the chaos on Thanksgiving Day. Dishes that can be made or prepped ahead of time can cut down the multitasking that will distract you from safe cooking this season.
Watch the Alcohol Intake
The merrier the holiday, the more alcohol consumption. According to Kaiser Permanente, People often over indulge during the holidays. “It’s that reasoning factor people will bring up, especially in November and December. They will eat a little more and say they will go on a diet in the New Year,” suggests Mosen Haksar, an addiction medical supervisor. That means more people on the roads who are drinking and driving. In a report released by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) drinking violations for the monitored group of 450,000 DUI offenders jumped an average of 33 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, compared to the average violation rate the rest of the year. Dr. Sharma recommends being very careful in terms of your alcohol intake. “ Sometimes when you're in a social situation you might not realize how many glasses of alcohol you might have had. Many times you go to your family members houses, and many people just drive home, but you should always have a designated driver,” he added. If you don’t have a designated driver and want to partake in the holiday drinking, see if there is a room or couch available for you to sleep on until you are okay to drive in the morning.
Beware Of Friendly Family Football Games
Planning a pickup game while the turkey cooks? Many families gather outside and run some drills or play a quick game of two-hand touch or flag football. You might want a break from the kitchen and decide to join in with the fellas, but is your body prepared for the physical contact? A fun game can quickly turn into an injury if you have not conditioned, stretch and hydrate yourself for the game. “Sometimes people decide to play tackle football without any equipment. People that don't usually work out regularly end up getting injured. Some of the stuff you see are injuries that people get from sports, sprained ankles, sometimes people bump their heads, especially if they're playing football out in the yard,” shared Dr. Sharma. If you haven’t played a game of football in a while it might be best to sit this game out or watch the professionals do their thing on television.
Watch Those Decorations
Having the best-decorated house for Christmas doesn’t have to come with injuries. Keep safe while decorating your home by knowing how to use the proper tools to hang your decor. Pull out those dusty manuals to review how to use your nail guns and glue guns. Follow safety guidelines when using ladders and stepping stools so that you don’t fall down. Another thing to be mindful of is the weather when decorating outdoors. “If you're outside and you're in a very cold environment, sometimes frostbite could also come in, especially if trying to do this in the winter days when it's extremely cold. I always tell everyone, to be mindful of their surroundings, especially during the holidays, because that's when people don't tend to really be as vigilant about that," shared Dr. Sharma.
Double Check the Menu
Holidays are meant for good eatin’, and many of us can kiss our diets goodbye. Our heavy-handed relatives made sure there was extra butter, salt and sugar in every dish, but that’s not always a good thing. For those of us who have high blood pressure and diabetes, you should be mindful of your food intake during this time of year. “During the holiday's people like to eat. People like to eat a lot of heavy foods high in salt. Therefore, people with medical problems like diabetes, heart failure or high blood pressure should always watch their salt intake during the holidays, because that can result in their condition worsening,” said Dr. Sharma. Indigestion can also be a problem with all of the eating you will be doing this holiday season. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and that can send us to the emergency room, too. “Some people come in with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting after enjoying their holiday feasts,” he added.
Be smart this holiday season and avoid these common holiday-related injuries.