In Touch with You Blog: Details

Don't let Holiday Dangers Make You a Bah-Humbug


As if holiday stresses and a lack of time for the “to do” list, plus a lack of sleep, aren’t enough to make you want to skip the holidays, be extra cautious as you go about your holiday plans and decorating.

Erik Smith, a physician’s assistant in Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Emergency Department, has seen a wide variety of injuries and illnesses while working during the holidays.

Erik shared that it’s not just the unsecured ladder while hanging the outdoor lights that causes the broken ankles and legs. These injuries can also happen when a shingles breaks and you lose your balance. “And don’t forget that getting the decorations out of the rafters (and putting them away after Christmas!) is another time when injuries can occur,” Erik said.

He points out that people with asthma and diabetes are particularly at risk for complications if they get the flu. “We see an increase in respiratory issues with kids during the holidays. And we can see more abdominal issues during the holidays, like gallbladder attacks, because people are so tempted to eat more and to consume rich foods.”

Erik mentioned that we need to be extra watchful of young children during the holidays. “I remember seeing a youngster who had swallowed a small Christmas tree light bulb one year. Everything turned out fine and the child didn’t need to have surgery.” But hearing about these mishaps reminds us that young children will put anything in their mouths and the holidays are filled with tempting lights, foods, plants, etc. that just tempt young children all the more.

Some of the most common holiday emergencies are obvious – but some aren’t. Check out this list:

Trips and Falls –

·         Whereas you may have already put up your outdoor lights what goes up must come down. That ladder that was off-balance when you put the lights up several weeks ago is still dangerous when you take the lights down. Consider replacing an old, wobbly ladder before you pack the lights away for another year. Use only a wooden or fiberglass ladder as metal ladders conduct electricity.

·         Before the grandkids show up at your house take one more look at the electrical cords. Make sure the cords are out of traffic paths or are secured with tape and/or mats. Are the cords you’re using for the outdoor lights labeled for outdoor use? If in inclement weather make sure that you keep cords away from standing water and/or snow. Have you checked to make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under furniture?

Christmas Tree Safety

·         Avoid placing the Christmas tree next to a chimney, furnace, space heater or any heating device.

·         Only use lights labeled for indoor use. Check for damage both before you decorate the tree and when packing away the lights until next year. Replace broken and non-functioning lights and toss lights strands that have worn or frayed cords.

·         Keep your tree well-watered. Check the tree every other day, if not daily, for moisture. Dry trees burn more easily and catch fire more easily than do trees that are moist and watered.

·         Make sure your tree is well-secured in its stand. If the tree is listing reposition it and secure as needed. If you have pets encourage them to stay away from the tree or provide a barrier.

·         Always turn off the Christmas tree lights when leaving the house and before going to bed. Also make sure you turn off the outdoors lights before turning in for the night.

Candle Safety

·         Candles can be inherently dangerous. Avoid using them on the Christmas tree or in unattended areas.

·         Make certain that only adults light or move candles.

·         Never use candles near flammables such as draperies or decorations.

·         Consider using LED candles for added safety!


·         Do you know what is in that scrumptious hot dip you’re about to consume? If you have food allergies ask before you eat and make sure you have allergy medications and an Epi-pen with you. Be especially vigilant with children who have food allergies!

·         Be cautious with alcohol beverages. It’s easy to imbibe a bit too much but adults aren’t the only ones to abuse alcohol. Teenagers might be a great help in party preparations but they might be prone to drinking abandoned drinks or taking consumed bottles of alcohol. Young children love to imitate adults and they may be sampling sips of the sweeter cocktails leftover. Small bodies take less alcohol to become inebriated and alcohol poisoning can be a serious consequence.

·         That second serving of mashed potatoes and gravy may find its way to your plate but will almost certainly find its way to your waistline. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development the average American gains about one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; those who are already obese can gain up to seven pounds in that same period of time.

·         Caloric foods and weight gain aren’t the only food danger during the holidays. It’s easy to become distracted with all the extra cooking and baking. Be extra vigilant in watching the handles of all those pots and pans that they don’t accidentally face outward where little hands can grab on. And never leave the oven door open unless directly tending to the food.

·         Lastly make sure that young children and pets don’t decide to sample the holiday plants. Jerusalem cherry, Christmas cactus, poinsettias, mistletoe and holly can all be toxic. If these are consumed and diarrhea or vomiting ensue, or a rash in a child, seek immediate medical care.

The bottom line is holiday safety is to be extra-vigilant. A little extra sleep and enlisting a little extra help can go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones healthy, safe and merry this holiday season.

Here’s to Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Kathy Roche, Manager, Public Relations

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