Holiday Injury Prevention

What are Some Holiday Tripping Hazards?  

During the holidays, there can be several new additions to your environment and public spaces to make it festive! Holiday lights, big decorations taking up room/walkway spaces, or uneven or poorly lit surfaces can contribute to falls during the holidays. Common reasons why people trip is:  

  • if the carpet has a fold/bunch in it 
  • if there is something in the walkway (i.e. a toy) 
  • a crack in the sidewalk/driveway 

It is important to always look where you are going. Be proactive in seeing any obstacles in your walking path to avoid or maneuver. There are also footwear options you can make to help reduce the likelihood of falling. Examples are wearing:  

  • closed toe shoes with a supported heel 
  • keeping your shoelaces tied tightly 
  • shoes that have good soles (intact, thick ridges-no smooth bottoms) to give you enough support that you will not slip-on surfaces

How Can You Prevent Falls During the Holiday Season?  

Most falls can be prevented - even outside of the holiday season! 

  1. Make sure the area you are walking in is well lit. (so you can see where you are going)
  2. Make sure all walkways are clear of obstructions. Decorations or items on the floor can cause narrow walkways and tripping hazards. 
  3. If you have holiday lights placed nearby, keep them secure and out of walkways. 
  4. Make sure all throw rugs are secure and smooth. 
    1. No snags/bunches of carpet/rug pulled up or folded.
    2. You can purchase rug grippers or adhesive tape to make sure carpets or decorations stay exactly where they should. 
  5. Try to avoid placing electric power cords or lights that run along an area someone would walk.

Woman in white slippers and jeans tripping over a black electrical cord in the kitchen.

Tips for Carrying Luggage or Heavy Packages During the Holiday Season 

When traveling during the holiday season to see your loved ones, you may be lifting, carrying or pulling your luggage with you. It is important to know appropriate ways to manipulate your luggage to avoid any type of injury that could occur.  

Woman's hands securely putting red luggage in an airplane overhead bin.Woman putting luggage in overhead bin.

  1. Pack lightly if you can. Notice the weight of your luggage. 
    1. If you have a backpack, use both straps to distribute weight over both shoulders. 
    2. The weight of your backpack should also be less than 20% of your body weight.
  2. Consider the different types of suitcases. 
    1. Rolling suitcases with extendable handles are most ergonomic. 
    2. It is helpful to push it in front of you or to your side rather than behind you. Pulling it behind you can cause shoulder strains if the luggage is heavy. 
    3. If you are noticing pain with your carry-on, try using bigger joints to carry your luggage. This can be switching a handle to hold in your elbow or shoulder rather than your hand.
  3. Lift your luggage safely. 
    1. Make sure when lifting, keep it close to your body and stand close to the targeted area you wish to place your luggage. 
    2. Lift with the luggage: close to you, lift with your knees, protect your back, and make sure no one is in your path that could be harmed. 
    3. Ask for help if you are not sure if you can lift it safely! 

What is the Most Common Injury on Christmas?  

There hasn’t been any research that says there is one injury that occurs more than others on Christmas. However, there is an increase in various injuries seen at the emergency room. This is usually due to someone falling from a ladder hanging decorations, falling from tripping, or an automobile accident. [Please make sure you have a designated, sober driver if you are drinking during the holidays.] 

These include fractures from falls:  

Another common injury seen can be lacerations. This is a cut to the skin or deeper where it affects tendons of the muscles. Lacerations commonly occur from cooking or cleaning with sharp objects. 

Tips to Avoid Lacerations During the Holidays

  1. Do not place sharp knives to soak in your sink.  
    1. You can cut your hand on the knife when reaching into the soapy water.  
  2. Always turn appliances (i.e. blenders) off.  
  3. Unplug appliance when cleaning.  
  4. Use cleaning gloves.  
    1. Burns are another common injury. They can occur from fires or electrical burns from holiday lights and cooking.  

Man falling back first into a box of Christmas decorations.Man falling into a box of decorations.

Injury Prevention Hanging Holiday Lights

Make sure that when you are hanging holiday lights, you have safety measures in place. 

  1. Make sure that ladder is on a fixed, even surface and secured. 
    1. If you have someone you can ask, request an individual be present to help hand you the lights/decorations or keep your ladder fixed safely. 
  2. Make sure that you are also placing your ladder in front of the area you are trying to decorate. 
  3. Do not try to reach far out to the side or behind you. 
    1. This could cause a shoulder strain or make you get off balance, causing a fall. 

How Can I Manage Chronic Pain During the Holidays? 

Sometimes holidays can affect individuals with certain medical conditions and chronic pain. Some causes of increased pain include performing more activity. This can cause fatigue or pain with increased activity demands. (i.e. cooking more often, lifting boxes, hanging decorations)

A decrease in the weather temperature can cause pain in arthritic joints. Some simple tips to manage chronic pain are:

  • Make sure you listen to your body. 
  • Starting to feel sore? Stop and take a break. 
  • If you start to hurt somewhere, stop and look at your posture. 
    • Are you standing too far away from something you are reaching? 
    • Are you trying to lift something that is too heavy for you?

Heat is typically soothing to arthritic joints or stiffness. Ice is helpful if you are swollen and/or your injury is new. 

By: Kaylee MunchMOT, OTR/L

Holiday Injury Treatment in Jacksonville

Did you injury yourself during the holiday season? Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help you get back on the right track!

To book a physical or occupational therapy appointment with JOI Rehab, call 904-858-7045.

To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Specialist, call 904-JOI-2000 or click the red button below.

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