The holidays are a time of joy, togetherness and celebration… and also injuries.
That’s right, all this festivity tends to result in a whole lot of accidents and injuries every year. And seniors are among those who are most prone to becoming the victim of these accidents.
Aging bodies and minds, combined with a commitment to upholding holiday traditions can lead to dangerous situations that put you and your loved ones at risk.
The good news is that most injuries that occur this time of year are easily preventable and can be successfully avoided if you exercise caution and know your limits.
Read on to find out which dangers you should be aware of so that you can avoid spending your holidays in the E.R.
Would you believe that in November and December of 2012 there were over 150,000 injuries that occurred while festive folks were merely decking the halls? This shockingly high number is due to unwise choices and improper preparation. The majority of these injuries are related to falls, lacerations and back strain, and here are a few tips on how they can be avoided:
- If at all possible you should avoid using ladders entirely, but if you do, always follow safety guidelines and have a helper there to assist you.
- When using string lights check each set carefully for broken sockets, exposed wires and loose connections.
- For outdoor decorating, only use extension cords and decorations that clearly state that they’re certified for outdoor use.
- Do not attempt to lift something that’s too heavy – if lifting it is even a slight strain, wait until you can ask someone else to lift it for you.
- Don’t rush or take unsafe shortcuts just to get the job done; it’s better to have an undecorated house than a broken limb.
Between cooking, candles, fireplaces and Christmas trees, the holidays see a significant increase in home fires every year. These fires can result in injury, massive property damage and even death, so it’s worth taking the extra care and time to ensure that they don’t happen in your home.
- If you buy a real tree, make sure that it’s fresh by touching the bottom and bending the leaves – a fresh tree will have sticky resin on the trunk and needles that don’t break. This is important because dried out trees are much more flammable than fresh ones, so keep them watered daily as well.ii
- Place your tree far from fireplaces, radiators and burning candles.
- Opt for flameless LED candles instead of the real thing to significantly cut down risk of accidental fires.
- If you use a fireplace, only add one artificial log at a time and be careful when poking as they can send sparks flying.
- Before leaving home or going to bed, double check to make sure that all lights and candles are extinguished.
Operating Under the Influence
Tis the season for boozy egg nog, endless bottles of wine and overindulging. There’s nothing wrong with having a few drinks when you’re celebrating, but keep in mind that being under the influence impairs all motor functions and can often lead to unnecessary accidents.
- If you know you’ll be drinking, make plans ahead of time to spend the night where you are, call a taxi (or ride-sharing service) or ride home with a sober driver.
- Avoid driving on the night before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve and Christmas if you can, as these are the nights on which drunk driving increases.
- Do not drink before cooking, decorating or using the fireplace.
If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) enough to live in a place where it snows, you know that wintery weather conditions can and often do lead to dangerous accidents. While you can’t avoid them all, you can take precautions to mitigate your risks.
- Always wear the right clothes and shoes for cold weather and snow.
- Take extra care to choose good boots that have non-skid soles and good traction and be sure to take them off as soon as you get in the house so you don’t create slippery conditions on your floors.
- If you use a cane or walker, consider adding ice tips to the feet.
- Instead of risking injury by shoveling your own walkways or stairs, find a friend, relative, neighbor or service whom you can rely on to clear snow and salt your steps and sidewalks to keep you and your guests safe from slipping.
- If you know that a big snow storm or cold snap is on its way, get any groceries or medications you’ll need beforehand so that you can stay put during the most dangerous times.
Keep your holidays merry and safe this year by doing all that you can to prevent these dangerous accidents and injuries from happening to you and your aging family members.