The holidays are an entertaining and busy time of year; that can also hold many unexpected surprises! Hopefully, your unexpected surprises are as simple as an unanticipated dinner guest or another hideous sweater from your dear grandmother, but sometimes they can be more serious. Take a look at the top 8 accidents encountered during the holiday season.
1) Automobile Accidents
According to AAA, in 2014 nearly 94.5 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more to reach their holiday destinations. When you combine that many people on the road who are late for their holiday parties with the ice and snow covered roads that we regularly have this time of year, it is a recipe for disaster.
2) Alcohol Related Incidents
The holidays seem like a good excuse to overindulge on the eggnog, mulled wine and other festive beverages, but one of the most common reasons people are seen in Urgent Cares and Emergency Rooms in December and January is excess holiday “spirits”. These accidents can be anything from a careless fall, to a grown adult crashing into a tree while riding a child sized sled. Shake your head if you want, but excessive alcohol consumption mixed with a challenge from a family member or friend can lead typically reasonable adults to make rather unreasonable decisions.
Between the ice on sidewalks, climbing ladders to hang decorations, and tripping over extension cords, the uncoordinated can find making it through the holidays without falling to be the best present ever! Approximately 34 percent of decorating accidents come from individuals falling off ladders, so take a minute to read the directions on your ladder and make sure it is properly set up and secured before jumping on with the 10 foot snowman. We also recommend properly removing the snow and ice from your driveway and sidewalks, or throwing down a layer of salt before company arrives.
Candles, trees, wreaths, festive lights and so many other traditional holiday decorations can lead to fires. According to the National Fire Protection Institution, more than 30 percent of home fires and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur during December, January and February. The Electrical Safety Foundation International also notes that Christmas tree fires are responsible for twice the injuries and five times the fatalities of other fires that occur during winter.
Christmas tree fires can occur with both real trees and artificial ones! How do you avoid this? If you have a real tree or wreath be sure to water it regularly and keep it away from heat sources (heaters, furnace, candles, fireplaces, etc.) If you go the modern way and are using a plastic tree, look for a “fire-resistant” label when you purchase it, and when setting it up year after year double check that the light strands are still in good condition and no wires are exposed.
Besides the trees, the strands of lights and additional decorative candles are a major fire risk as well. Be sure to place candles on even surfaces, out of reach of children and pets, and away from flammable objects! It is also important to turn off or unplug those lights and blow out candles before going to bed every night.
5) Cooking Accidents
The kitchen can be a dangerous place if one is not careful. Holiday cooking accidents can encompass everything from cuts due to a knife or broken glassware, to burns from boiling water or removing something hot from the microwave with bare hands. Picture this, an individual has their favorite holiday sweater on, you know the one with the tacky design and the baggy sleeves. They are cooking dinner and reach across the stove, and one of those baggy sleeves grazes the boiling water for the deviled eggs or catches fire from the burner. That would quickly put a damper on the holiday festivities! We urge you to take your time and be cautious while cooking your favorite dishes this year.
6) Epic Indigestion
This one surprises a lot of people, but did you know that the symptoms of severe heartburn and indigestion can mimic those of heart attacks? Anyone experiencing chest pain should seek medical attention but the number of individuals who end up going home with an antacid and rather embarrassed is higher than one might anticipate. So maybe skip the third helping of pie this year and prevent the embarrassment that epic indigestion can cause (you don’t want to give your mother-in-law another reason to criticize!)
7) Food Poisoning
There are a lot of things to remember while preparing the big Christmas dinner! It is easy to forget to allow enough time for that turkey or ham to defrost, or get distracted by the side dishes and the picky cousin who doesn't eat normal food and made a special request; leading one to avoid checking the temperature of the meat. According to the CDC, roughly one in six Americans gets food poisoning each year. Make lists and take the extra time required to properly defrost your meat and check that it is cooking at the proper temperature. No one wants to spend this exciting time of year sick!
8) Allergic Reactions
We see many individuals suffering from allergic reactions during the holidays, some of whom were not previously aware of the things they were allergic to. These reactions can occur in obscure ways including wearing that new sweater from your grandma without washing it first, eating a cookie that didn’t contain peanut butter but was on a platter next to a peanut butter cookie, or using that new expensive perfume or cologne from your significant other.
While we hope you do not have any unexpected accidents this season, if you do we are here to help! Take a look at the holiday hours for the UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care nearest to you.
Wishing you and your family a safe and enjoyable holiday season!
This article was originally published on Dec. 2, 2014.