‘Tis the season to be jolly…and also to get injured, according to Andrew Foster, emergency medicine specialist at SSM Health in Madison, Wisconsin.
Foster says that the holiday season is responsible for causing countless injuries, especially in senior citizens.
“Especially when it gets slippery,” Foster told Channel3000.com. “Anybody falling, but especially elderly people, so just be careful when you’re shoveling and you’re putting salt out.”
According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs. This is largely attributed to the fact that older adults (seniors) will account for roughly 20% of the U.S. population by 2030. Foster says that thousands of people, especially elderly people, end up in the emergency room for injuries sustained during common holiday activities such as hanging lights and decorating the tree.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 15,000 holiday decorating-related injuries that caused emergency room visits in 2012, which is the most recent data available. According to the data, the most common injuries were falls, back strains, and lacerations.
The CPSC as well as the National Fire Protection Association also noted that there are increased occurrences of fires related to holiday celebrations, including holiday cooking, candles, fireworks, fireplaces, and even trees themselves.
Foster noted that he sees numerous lacerations caused by holiday cooking and outdoor activities such as sledding.
“Typically people are more active during the holidays, so outdoors, sledding, skating, those sort of things,” he said. “We see a lot of musculoskeletal injuries. Also, people are preparing food for the holidays, so a lot of times, people cut or injure themselves preparing food, believe it or not.”
To prevent these common holiday injuries, the NSC and CPSC have a number of suggestions.
First, whenever you’re buying a Christmas tree, make sure it’s freshly cut. The needles should be flexible and not brittle enough to break between your fingers. If opting for an artificial tree, make sure to buy one with a ‘fire resistant’ label. Keep real trees watered and all trees, whether real or artificial, away from heat sources.
When hanging lights and decorations, make sure ladders are steady and placed on secure and level ground. You should also always have someone hold the ladder as a spotter, and don’t ever take risks like leaning too far over to one side.
Candles should only be lit on heat resistant surfaces that are in sight. And of course, never light a candle near a tree.
Finally, replace old string lights when they become worn down, and make sure to check them every year to minimize the risk of fires.