With the holidays comes an increase in the incidence of certain types of accidents. The most common holiday-related injuries seen this time of year are falls due to holiday decorating, particularly outdoor decorating where heights and ladders are usually involved. To avoid holiday decorating injuries, never decorate by yourself and if using a ladder, make sure it is placed on a solid foundation and have a spotter.
It is important to realize and adhere to your limitations. Factors such as balance, equilibrium and medications can all increase risk of holiday decorating falls.
Other common injuries seen around the holiday season are due to indoor decorations, such as:
• Candles – Even candles in glass housing can burst when they get too hot, or get tipped over. Use LED candles wherever possible.
• Cords – Make sure any cords are tucked away and don’t create a tripping hazard.
• Plants and Candy – If you have small children or pets, be mindful of what decorations or candy may be within their reach. Some holiday plants can make pets and children sick if ingested, and candy can be dangerous for pets to eat.
• Choking hazards – Small decorations and toys can be a choking hazard to kids. Keep toys with small parts away from children under age 3, and check toys regularly for damage that could create small pieces that are choking hazards. Any toy or toy part that fits inside a toilet paper tube may present a choking hazard to young children.
When shopping, read labels. Look for well-made toys and follow the age and safety information on the warning labels. Make sure toys intended for older children are stored separately from those for younger children. Children can choke on small toys and toy parts.
If you plan on traveling by car during the holidays, try to plan your trip during low traffic times. If you do run into traffic, try to be patient and mindful while you drive. When traveling with small children, remove any bulky coats they are wearing before strapping them into their car seat. Bulky coats add space between the child and the harness, increasing the likelihood of injury. You can always put a blanket over them, or have them wear their coat backwards once they are in the car seat.
Leigha Jordan is the injury prevention coordinator for the trauma department at Cone Health. She also manages the activities of Safe Guilford, the injury prevention coalition for Guilford County, and provides outreach and education on child passenger, bike, and pedestrian safety, and fall prevention for older adults. Leigha received a Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001 and has been in her current position for eleven years