by Jessica M. Fike, OMS-IV

As Andy Williams sang, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year;” that is, unless you end up spending it at the doctor’s office or hospital with a holiday-related injury.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2015 almost 69,000 visits to the doctor were made for injuries secondary to holiday decorating. Few people would consider hanging up holiday lights to be a health hazard. However, a study published in the journal Injury in 2015 reported that falls while decorating with Christmas lights can lead to serious injuries, especially to the head and chest. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons gives the following advice to help you stay on your feet this holiday season and avoid falls:

  • Drinking and decorating is a no-no. Enjoy your favorite holiday cocktail when the job is done!
  • Keep extension cords and decorations out of walking paths to prevent trips and falls.
  • If your holiday decorating requires a ladder, use one of the appropriate height for the job to lessen the risk of strains, sprains, and falls. Use a spotter to ensure ladder stability.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas and I’ll Pack Light

No matter where you’re headed this holiday season, your trip will be safer if your luggage and gifts are easy to transport. In 2015, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 84,000 cases of luggage-related injuries. The following are tips to keep your back and whole body in business this holiday season:

  • Divide the items that you are packing into several lighter bags rather than one large bag that could cause injury to your wrists, arms, neck, or back when lifting.
  • Consider using wheeled luggage that can be pushed rather than pulled. Shoulder injuries are more likely when people are pulling rather than pushing heavy bags because their joints are being used in an unnatural position.
  • When lifting luggage or large gifts, practice good lifting technique by bending at the knees and not the waist, and lifting with your legs, and not your back.
  • If you cannot avoid carrying luggage over your shoulder, switch sides frequently to balance the load.

Walking (and driving) in a Winter Wonderland Safely

The holidays are a busy time of year and it is very easy to get distracted when you are out and about.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons provides the following tips for getting around safely this holiday season:

  • Wear footwear that is appropriate for your surroundings and be mindful of icy streets and sidewalks.
  • When shopping, walking, or driving, be especially aware of your surroundings.
  • If you need to call or text someone while you are out, stop and do this in an area outside of foot and vehicle traffic.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

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