WASHINGTON, D.C.—Winter months are busy in the nation’s emergency departments. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has several tips to ensure that you can spend this holiday with friends and loved ones rather than managing a medical emergency.
“Cold weather months put many people at greater risk of avoidable injuries,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Hopefully this holiday season brings you comfort and joy, not a trip to the emergency department. But, if you need to see an emergency physician, we are working through the holidays and every day to be there for you.”
Approximately 11,500 people are treated in winter months for snow shoveling-related injuries. Cold weather combined with physical exertion can be a bad combination for falls or injuries, or heart conditions. Know your boundaries, especially if you have had previous injuries. Dress for the weather and stay hydrated as the chillier temperatures sets in. Avoid over-exertion, particularly if you do physical labor outside.
Be safe if you are decorating, in and outside of the house. If you are decorating outside, follow commonsense safety procedures when hanging lights or lifting heavy boxes. If you must go on the roof, review safe ladder usage tips and use the “buddy system.” Inside, keep candles away from curtains or other fire hazards. Avoid putting small lights or decorations in arms-reach of small children or pets.
Emergency physicians encourage everyone to enjoy the holidays, within reason. “This is a special time of year, please celebrate responsibly,” said Dr. Jaquis. “And, consider taking steps to improve one of your most important gifts—your health. Practice self-care, get plenty of rest, exercise and try to stay as stress-free as possible.”