Every season, emergency rooms treat countless Americans for injuries sustained from the hazards of the holiday. People hurting themselves around Christmas time is about as traditional as singing carols, baking cookies, and buying presents. This makes sense considering the basic ingredients for disaster are totally afoot from November until January. Folks are going overboard with the eggnog. They’re rushing around to get everything done. There are Christmas lights and ladders and hot stoves. Emergency room nurses, beware! ‘Tis the season for some of the craziest accidents. And, the worst thing about these somewhat-silly injuries that pour in the emergency department each year is that they all begin with very plausible scenarios that could happen to anyone. Let’s check out the most common holiday hazards you might see this season.
Holidays in the Hospital: Most Common Holiday Hazards Nurses Will See
Let’s countdown the four most common holiday hazards you might see in the emergency department this year!
Falling while Decking the Halls
The first of the most common holiday hazards have to do with the simple task of decorating. The US Consumer Safety Commission reported more than 18,400 injuries associated with holiday decorating from November 2016 through January 2017. So, what the heck is going on? Well, people are falling, cutting themselves, and straining too much. The most common holiday decorating hazards from 2016 to 2018 involved falls (38 %), lacerations (14%), and strains or sprains (18%). In the emergency department, keep an eye out for accidents such as these.
Decoration-related Fire Ho, Ho, Hazard
People may think that their Christmas tree, overstrung with lights and handmade ornaments, looks beautiful. However, the National Fire Protection Association says Christmas trees, although perhaps pretty, are highly dangerous. Roughly $990 million dollars of damage happens in the United States every year from fires. And, 400 lives are taken from fires each year according to the U.S. Fire Administration. As an emergency room nurse, it’s your job to care for patients who come into the department. However, you can also pass a few prevention tips their way.
Some ways to prevent holiday fires include:
- Buy fresh trees. Check for trees that are green in color, not brown. Also, make sure the needles are still strong. You can test this by checking that they don’t break when you bend them.
- If you’re not dead set on a real tree, you can look for fire resistant fake trees!
- Make sure to place trees away from the heat source in the home. Remind patients and your family members to keep trees away from fireplaces or vents.
- Use fake candles instead of real ones when you have a tree, especially if there are young children or pets in your home.
- If you do want to have real candles, make sure you place them in safe areas where they won’t be bumped, tipped over, or forgotten about.
Alcohol-related Holiday Accidents.
So, we’re all familiar with it… “Hold my beer and watch this!” Well, this statement typically is said right before so many oopsie-daisies that land people in the emergency department. Regardless of what time of year it is, alcohol is the source of liquid courage that can be very dangerous, and the holidays are no exception. During the season, people are more likely to indulge in over consumption of the hard stuff. It makes sense. Many people have some extra days off from work and are attending those booze-fueled holiday shindigs. No matter the other ingredients (operating vehicles, having family altercations, falling, or cooking knives), drunks are a recipe for disaster that you often have to doctor up.
“New Toy” Injuries.
Believe it or not, a large group of people ends up taking a trip to the emergency department during the holidays because of accidents that occur with presents they just received. For example, anything new with wheels has the potential to cause a major spill. Like when Uncle Jim gets new Harley Davidson and gets just a little too excited about hopping on the hog. He crashes immediately. Nothing says Merry Christmas like an emegency trip to the hospital, right? Let’s just hope that people start gifting more helmets with these kinds of gifts.
What’s the craziest holiday hazard you’ve bared witness to as an emergency room nurse? Share with us in the comments below!