Simple holiday tips could help people avoid the ER

Michelle Stuckey
November 25, 2009 at 11:27 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Some holiday traditions, such as carving the turkey or stringing up Christmas lights, can land people in the emergency room if they are not done carefully.

There are also the more common problems that become more prevalent during the holidays, such as drinking and driving.

However, by keeping a few safety tips in mind, a trip to the hospital could be easily avoided.

The Emergency Nurses Association offers some tips for staying safe during this holiday season:

• After holiday parties, be sure that you wrap leftovers tightly, and keep them well-refrigerated or frozen to avoid food poisoning.  Be sure to periodically clean out the refrigerator to dispose of any food that might be going bad.  

• Be sure to provide non-alcoholic alternatives for drinks and be prepared to call a cab for anyone who may not be safe to drive.

• Avoid traveling after midnight, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, since that is the time that most motor vehicle crashes occur. Drive defensively.

• Keep to your normal sleep schedule.  Avoid driving when fatigued as your reactions are slowed and judgment is impaired.

• Always wear your safety belt and make sure that all adult and child passengers are properly restrained.

• Prevent holiday fires by using only nonflammable decorations, inspecting holiday lights, and using only those that are UL-approved.  Keep holiday trees well-watered and away from heat sources so that they do not become dried out.

• If possible, avoid using portable heaters.  If they are absolutely necessary, keep them in open spaces, away from anything that might catch fire and be sure to turn them off before you go to bed, leave the house or leave a room for a long time.

• If you have children and have out of town guests staying in your home, provide those guests with child-proof place to keep any medications they might be taking.

• If you have relatives staying with you, particularly elderly relatives, encourage them to bring a list of medications they are taking, a list of medical conditions and contact information for their doctors back home.

• When purchasing toys for children, remember that toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard for younger children.  If it will fit through a toilet paper roll it is too small to let a child play with.

Capt. Patrick Yoes with the St. Charles Parish Sheriffs Office said that one of the biggest problem during the holidays is drinking and driving.

"Anytime you’ve got parties and gatherings, you’ve got alcohol," Yoes said.

Yoes said that another holiday concern is safety while shopping.

"Be conscious of your surroundings when shopping on Black Friday," Yoes advised. "Park in well-lit areas, don’t leave valuables in a car and always lock car doors."

Bill Briggs, president of the Emergency Nurses Association, said that it is very important to keep all of these things in mind while still trying to enjoy the holidays.

"Most people don’t think of the holidays as a time to be wary and watchful, but they are," Briggs said.  "Enjoying a little too much eggnog, staying up a little too late or letting your guard down while driving can all lead to emergency department visits or worse.  As nurses who see the results of careless actions every day, we strongly urge everyone to heed these safety tips to ensure that they remember their holidays as happy times for years to come."

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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Parish to open community center as shelter today
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