Local Doctors Warn of Holiday Health Hazards

Holiday Injuries Pack Area Urgent Cares

The holidays won’t be merry and bright for the many local folks who will get hurt this season. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says holiday injuries are increasing with more than 13,000 people treated during the 2010 holiday season, up from 12,000 in 2009 (latest research available). Our local AFC Doctors Express urgent care centers expect to be as busy as Santa over the holidays, packed with patients harmed by holiday health hazards. That’s why our local doctors have created a Holiday Safety Checklist – advising families to make a list and check it twice.

Holiday Safety Checklist

Avoid Packaging Problems
Sometimes, people become so frustrated with hard plastic wrapping around toys and electronics that they cut themselves on the sharp edged packaging or with scissors, tools and knives when trying to pry the packages open. An average 6,000 people a year go to the emergency room due to packaging-related injuries (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

• Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging before they become dangerous playthings.

Deck the Halls Without Falls
Santa looks festive on your roof, but don’t hurt yourself getting him up there. The CPSC estimates during November and December more than 13,000 people will need medical help from decorating-related injuries, such as falls, burns and lacerations.

• Keep ladders on level ground, clear debris (and keep kids away) from the area, and when hoisting Santa and the reindeer on the roof, extend the ladder three feet beyond the edge of the roof.
• Don’t stand on the top two rungs of the ladder (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Banish Bad News Batteries
A 2012 study by the Journal Pediatrics reports every three hours, a child under age 18 goes to an emergency room due to button battery ingestion. These small batteries are often used to power toys, watches, remote controls and other electronic devices. Batteries that become lodged in the throat or intestine can generate and release hydroxide, resulting in dangerous chemical burns.

• Install batteries in toys before wrapping them to keep them out of the hands of curious kids.

Encourage Helmet Head
Some of the most hazardous holiday gifts have wheels – including scooters, skateboards, inline skates, bikes and motorcycles. Broken bones, sprains, head and spinal injuries are common around the holidays, especially when excited adults and kids want to try out their new wheels. According to the CPSC, non-motorized scooters was the toy category associated with the most injuries (15 and younger) in 2011.

• Gifts with wheels should come with a helmet.
• For scooters, skateboards and inline skates, the CPSC also recommends wrist guards, elbow and knee pads. All safety gear should be sized to fit.

Make Sure Chestnuts – Not Christmas Trees – Roast on an Open Fire
Each holiday, around 230 home fires start with Christmas trees. These fires cause an average of four deaths, 21 injuries and $17.3 million in direct property damage.

• Make sure live trees are fresh (deep green, not brown); trunk should be sticky and wet with resin; and make sure a large number of needles don’t come loose when you tap the tree trunk on the ground. Artificial trees should have a “fire resistant” label.
• Keep all trees away from heat sources like fireplaces and candles.
• Use lights tested for safety by nationally recognized testing labs.
• Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. It could cause a flash fire.

Carve the Turkey, Not Your Fingers
Carving accidents are prevalent during the holidays because hosts are often rushing, talking and drinking when cutting up the turkey, ham or roast.

• Never cut toward yourself. Your free hand should be placed opposite the side you’re carving.
• Keep knives dry because a wet handle is slippery and could cause your hand to slip on to the blade, resulting in a nasty cut.
• Keep all utensils sharp so you don’t have to force the cutting or carving.
• Make sure the carving station is a NO KID zone.

We invite you to come out to our urgent care centers and interview our doctors and possibly patients about the Holiday Safety Checklist. Please give us a call, and we’ll arrange all the interviews!

*Sources for information include Consumer Product Safety Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Capital Poison Center and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

About AFC Doctors Express Urgent Care:
Founded by an emergency room physician seeking a more efficient, affordable and personable system for urgent care patients, AFC Doctors Express walk-in medical centers are sweeping the country as the nation’s largest urgent care franchise. AFC Doctors Express provides state-of-the-art treatment for acute illness, trauma (including minor surgical procedures) and has on-site laboratory and digital x-ray service as well as medication dispensing. Pre-employment physicals, drug screening and treatment of work related injuries are also available to local employers. In 2013, American Family Care acquired Doctors Express, further expanding its reach and available services. By the end of 2013, AFC/DRX will operate more than 110 facilities in 28 states, providing care to more than a million patients. For more information, visit www.doctorsexpress.com.

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