**This article is with thanks to the South Coast Medical Group

The 10 Biggest Health Risks Many Face During Christmas


Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it is also a time when people make their way into the ER with some unusual injuries. Before you curl up on the couch with a loved one and enjoy Elf, Christmas Vacation or Miracle on 34th Street, please take 2 minutes to read these reminders for having a safe and healthy holiday season.

1. Decorating Injuries

Slow down Clark Griswold!

Although you may be excited to put up the Christmas lights, there are many risks that come with that. One of the biggest risks is trying to hang the Christmas lights in hard to reach places on an unsteady ladder.

Tens of thousands of people get injured each year doing this simple task. The best way to stay safe is to stabilize a ladder on a flat surface before using, wear sturdy shoes, and decorate before you have too much eggnog.

2. Electric Shocks

In addition to ladder safety, it is important to be careful hanging lights, especially if they are plugged in. Old light sets that have spent several 11-month increments twisted up in storage can become brittle, and the wires may end up exposed.  Be careful of any faulty lights that could cause you to get shocked.  Faulty lights can also contribute to Christmas tree fires.  Also, be mindful of how many things are going into one outlet.

3. Colds and Contagious Illnesses

Typically around the holidays, you are surrounded by many more people compared to normal. This year, the pandemic changes things, but it is still important to be mindful of who you are seeing and to avoid touching your face and consistently wash your hands. Even if you are limiting your contact, social distancing, and consistent mask usage can help you avoid germs.

4. Overeating

It’s hard to pass up mom’s signature dish during the holidays, and it seems like we never run out of sweets in December, but be careful. Overindulgence can cause weight gain that may only seem like a couple of pounds in the winter, but that gain could be a trend you don’t want to continue. Obesity comes with a whole new set of health issues. Try to be mindful of how much you are eating and drinking, and try to portion control. You know how wild the holidays are for Kevin McCallister.

5. Food Poisoning

In addition to overeating, another risk associated with food is food poisoning. Food poisoning can be caused by:

  • Eating food that has sat out long without being refrigerated
  • Food not cooked to a proper temperature
  • Food exposed to cross-contamination

The best way to avoid this is to follow the food safety guidelines outlined by the CDC. Food poisoning can ruin all that fun, even dancing, during the holidays.

6. Anxiety

Anxiety can be a real challenge for many this holiday season, and the source of it can vary from person to person.  Some people feel anxious being alone, while others feel anxious being around relatives they don’t see very often.  Others simply develop anxiety for shopping or preparing for the season. Money issues can cause people a lot of stress. To help, take time to yourself and start your shopping and cleaning earlier.

7. Deep Cuts

The holidays call for a lot of preparation, and we’ve seen plenty of accidents in the kitchen and around the home related to sharp objects.  Lacerations and cuts are a common injury, and they can come from chopping food for dinner, cutting wrapping paper for gifts or picking up broken glass from ornaments and decorations. There is no way to avoid these cuts entirely, but the best way to prevent them is by being careful and slowing down. Most of these accidents happen when you are in a rush.

8. Smoke Inhalation and Burns

If you think about it, there are many flammable items in your home during the holidays. These items include Christmas trees, burning candles, fireplaces, and food that is getting cooked in your home. When burning or cooking these items, you will want to make sure you keep an eye out for them, and never leave those items unattended. If you are deep-frying a turkey over the holidays, make sure you have ample space and protective clothing.  When that cold turkey hits the hot oil, injury-causing accidents can happen.

Who hasn’t seen The Santa Clause?  These things happen!

9. Choking

We know you’re excited to dig into Grandma’s homemade pumpkin or pecan pie, but please slow down when you eat.  Also, avoid overstuffing yourself with stuffing.  Choking on our favorite food is a serious health concern during the holidays.

Another thing to look out for is small toys that your pets and younger children may mistake for food. Watch over your pets and children and make sure that there are no small toys or parts laying around.  Also, since it’s the season of chocolate, make sure it is kept at a safe distance away from our four-legged friends.

Nobody loved a good meal like Shaggy and Scooby, but please do so safely!

10. Binge Drinking

The holidays are a time to celebrate, but it doesn’t mean you need to go overboard. Please enjoy alcohol responsibly, and if your celebrations exceed your expectations, take a rideshare home, cozy up on the couch for the night where you’re celebrating, or get a ride from a friend.

If you’re a real Family Guy, maybe Peter Griffin will be your designated driver.


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