As surprising as it may be, some traditional holiday activities can cause injuries severe enough to turn the festive season into a trip to the emergency room. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that at least 60,000 visits to doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and clinics are a direct result of holiday related accidents.

Holiday Related Accidents – The Stats

There are around 160 decorating-related injuries happening on a daily basis during the holiday season, and a hefty 50 percent of those incidents involve falls from ladders, rooftops, and other precarious locations. Over the average holiday season about 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms due to seasonal decorating-related injuries. The CPSC estimates that each year holiday decorations, ornaments and other trinkets are directly responsible for more than 12,000 emergency room visits due to cuts, and shocks. A significant number of these injuries also include bone fractures, breaks and sprains. An additional 2,000 people are treated for lacerations, sprains, and other injuries due to yet another holiday inspired hazard; tripping over extension cords – connected to Christmas trees, and other festive electrical devices.

Whether from lifting a present that’s too heavy, hauling overstuffed baggage from one location to another, or trying to plow too much snow, millions of Americans also experience back injuries because of the holidays, every year. A 2019 report counted 72,000 emergency room, clinic or doctor visits resulting just from carrying luggage that caused back, neck and shoulder issues.

And then there are winter sports. Accidents involving snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding accounted for more than 186,000 injuries reported by doctor offices, clinics and emergency rooms involving injuries including bone, joint, and muscle-related complaints.

Fall Prevention Highlights

Alcohol and decorating don’t mix, according to these reports. It’s best to save the libations until after the decorations are all set up. Consider also that pesky ladder – responsible for so many holiday accidents. Keeping in mind that the weight the ladder is supporting should never exceed its maximum load capacity will save many holiday decorators from unexpected mishaps. Another tempting short cut to holiday decorating is using furniture to reach a height; instead, opt to use a sturdy step stool to hang a wreath, ornament or picture.

Lifting Accident Prevention

For heavy lifting always use proper body lifting techniques. When lifting, bend at your knees and lift with your leg muscles, not your back and waist. Avoid twisting or rotating your spine.

When traveling for the holiday be sure to ask for help when moving heavy or awkward items. Pack light and use luggage with wheels when traveling. When on the airlines, be mindful of placing luggage in an overhead compartment and always ask for assistance to lift baggage overhead, or remove it at the end of the flight.

Snow Related Hazards

For that first excursion into the snow, remember to warm up muscles beforehand with light exercise for at least 10 minutes. Begin your lifting routines with manageable weights and do not overdo aerobic activities. For those who may be hitting the slopes, take the time to take a lesson from a qualified instructor. It’s imperative to learn how to fall correctly to reduce the risk of injury.

In the unlikely event that shoveling show becomes your next great winter sport, be sure to clear snow as soon as it builds up and then frequently after that. Getting the jump on snow buildup while it’s only a light covering will help avoid shoveling packed, heavy snow, which can cause back and shoulder injuries for the unprepared. Also avoid twisting to throw snow over your shoulder or to the side which places stress on the back. Watch out for ice, a real culprit during the winter for causing sudden and serious falls. If you find yourself falling, try to fall on your side or buttocks. Roll over naturally, turning your head in the direction of the roll.

Orthopedic Help When You Need It

If you do experience an injury during the holidays, SRO’s highly skilled orthopedic specialists and physical therapy team have your back. SRO is a full-service orthopedics practice committed to providing exceptional care for all types of orthopedic injuries and conditions. Our team of fellowship-trained orthopedic doctors offers the latest nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for a wide range of orthopedic sub-specialties and sports medicine.