For the media

4 tips to avoid holiday safety mishaps

By The Health News Team | December 13, 2021
Man on ladder decorating house for holidays

The holiday season is here. While it can be filled with joy, it’s also a very busy time of year. In our rush to prepare decorations and cook feasts for family and friends, sometimes accidents and other safety incidents can occur.

Dr. Gregory Apel, medical director of the Sharp Coronado Hospital Emergency Department, shares four tips for a safe and healthy holiday.

  1. Decorate safely
    “A CDC study estimates that more than 5,800 people are injured in fall-related injuries due to holiday decorating each year,” says Dr. Apel. “Be sure to take extra care when putting up or taking down holiday decorations.”
    To avoid decorating mishaps, Dr. Apel recommends the following precautions:
    • Avoid standing on furniture.
    • Make sure decorations — electrical cords, ornaments and tree skirts — do not become tripping hazards.
    • Always have a spotter when using a ladder or hanging decorations on a roof.

  2. Avoid back injuries
    “Holiday activities can take a toll on your back,” says Dr. Apel. “Picking up heavy luggage at the airport, moving furniture to set up decorations, and carting your family’s gifts from your house to your car can all lead to back injuries, strains or worse.”
    To avoid hurting your back this holiday season, remember to lift heavy objects with your legs and carry items close to your body. If something is too heavy, consider hiring a professional for help.

  3. Pick your plants carefully
    “Some holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis, can be potentially poisonous if consumed. Make sure to keep them out of reach from children,” says Dr. Apel.
    For those who decorate a Christmas tree, it’s also important to make sure it is safe. “If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled ‘fire resistant,’” says Dr. Apel. “If using a live tree, cut about 2 inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Remember to water it several times per week and remove it from your home when it is dry.”
    Always place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, and make certain not to block any doorways.

  4. Practice COVID-19 precautions
    While many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the pandemic is still ongoing so it’s important to continue taking safety precautions.
    “Public health recommendations urge people to get vaccinated and get appropriate boosters ahead of the holidays if you have not done so already,” says Dr. Apel. “For young children who are not yet vaccinated, the CDC suggests reducing risk of exposure by making sure the people around them have all received the vaccine.”
    The CDC also recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded public spaces when out running holiday errands.

A trip to the emergency room is not on anyone’s wish list this season. If you do find yourself needing to visit the ER, rest assured that it’s safe to seek care.

Learn more about emergency services at Sharp.

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