In my rush to get my buffet supper out when celebrating a birthday dinner for my father, I dropped a pan of 12 pounds of homemade hot applesauce onto the floor! Fortunately, no one was burned or hurt. But the food was ruined and my hard work was for naught. Had I simply taken my time and not rushed, the unfortunate incident would not have occurred.
In the above situation, little was hurt. But not taking care or time in other situations can have devastating consequences. So much of injury prevention is just common sense! How often have you injured yourself and afterwards said, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it that way”. Often, the end to this sentence is “but I was in a hurry!”
We are busy people. And we do “rush” through life. Add to that the extra activities and stress that accompany the holiday season and you have created a great environment for injury. In fact, statistically, injuries occur more frequently during the holiday season. Various studies have estimated that between 5,800 to 13,000 people have a non-fatal injury every holiday season. Many of the injuries result from falls off ladders and are more common among men. Here are some safety reminders for the holidays.
- Don’t do something in a manner in which you know isn’t the correct way to do it. (Then you won’t have to say “I knew I shouldn’t have done that!”)
- Ladder Safety: Make sure the ladder is secure and on level ground. Space the base of the ladder 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet it extends upwards. Keep your feet centered between the rails of the ladder. Do not overreach; move the ladder instead. Do not stand on the top two rungs of the ladder. To reach a roof, extend the ladder at least 3 feet beyond the edge of the roof. Keep the area clear around the top and bottom to the ladder. Ensure stepladders are locked securely. Never use a folding stepladder in the closed position. Follow the 3-point rule while on a ladder: Two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet on the ladder at all times. Do not use furniture in place of a ladder. (These safety strategy guidelines are adapted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Safety Council.)
- If you give sporting equipment such as skateboards, skates or bicycles for holiday presents, be sure to add the proper protective gear. Emergency rooms report an increase in fractures within the few days following the holiday due to spills, falls and collisions.
- Candles, while beautifully casting a warm glow, can be very dangerous any time of the year. But during the holiday season, people use them more often. Frequently they are placed near greens that become quite flammable as they dry out. Children can also bump into them.
- Speaking of children, the holidays can present some special risks to them. Emergency rooms often see children for holiday-related injuries like aspirated pine needles, little ornaments or artificial snow. Poisoning can be a big problem, too. Many holiday plants and berries are poisonous (to your pets also). Alcohol poisoning can also occur if little ones get their hands on glasses with small amounts of leftover drinks. It doesn’t take much alcohol to poison a small body.
- If you celebrate the holidays with a live tree, keep it tree watered. Do not place it near a heating source. Never go out or to bed with lights left on. Inspect light string for frays or breaks. Of course, it goes without saying a lit candle on a tree is not a very good idea. (While we’re discussing fire safety, take time to check your smoke detectors. Also, never go out or to bed with a clothes dryer running.)
- Alcohol doesn’t mix very well with stress or driving. It can also create an environment for squabbles to get out of hand. We always think, “it will happen to the other guy”, but intoxication can lead to mistakes in judgment that can have a lifelong impact.
Take time to enjoy the season. Try to remember the true reason for celebration. The December holidays are held in remembrance of miracles, not spectacles. For more information on injury prevention, Quinnipiack Valley Health District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) can call QVHD, 248-4528 or request by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the QVHD website: www.qvhd.org.