by Brent Hearn •
With the end of the year barreling toward us, many of us find ourselves in full hustle-and-bustle mode. There are decorations to drag down, family gatherings to plan for, office parties to attend, gifts to shop for…and the list goes on and on.
While there are plenty of warm fuzzies associated with this time of year, all the joy and merrymaking can bring with it something not so joyful: a whole sleigh-load of opportunities for injury and illness.
Remember, a single act of carelessness can take you from DIY to EMT quicker than you can say “Kris Kringle.” From hot ladles (burn risk) to errant dreidels (fall hazard), the season is full of novel ways for us to kick off the new year the worse for wear.
Here are a few tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, happy, and healthy through the close of this year and into the next!
Whether you’re climbing into your attic to retrieve dusty holiday decorations or climbing a ladder to hang lights, there are plenty of chances for a misstep—and the veritable cornucopia of injuries that can follow.
- Be sure to keep three points of contact at all times when climbing/descending a ladder (both feet/one hand, both hands/one foot).
- Use the 4-to-1 rule: For every four feet of ladder height, place the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall.
- Whenever possible, don’t climb alone. Make sure someone knows where you are and what you’re doing. Should an injury occur, a bad situation can become much worse if there’s no one around to help.
Easy There, Hercules
You’re not a 19th-century strongman (or woman). Nobody’s coming from miles around to marvel at how many gifts you can cart to the minivan. Take your time, make multiple trips if necessary, and for the love of all that’s holly and jolly, lift with your legs and not your back.
For many, the holiday season is also a season of road trips. Make sure all those extra miles logged are safe ones.
- Keep an emergency kit in the car (especially in inclement weather and sub-freezing temperatures).
- Get plenty of rest before a long trip. There were 633 reported fatalities from drowsy-driving-related crashes in 2020 and tens of thousands of injuries. (Drowsy-driving statistics can vary greatly as they can be difficult to measure.)
- Eliminate unnecessary distractions. Put down your phone, and explain to children who are old enough the importance of distraction-free driving.
- Surely, surely, surely you know not to drink and drive. But in case you need a reminder: DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. Use a designated driver or plan to stay put after any excess merrymaking.
Plan ahead, be smart, and be careful. The holidays are full of distractions, and it’s easy to get complacent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done something a thousand times, it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, and it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing. When executing any task with inherent risk, slow down and focus. The little bit of extra time it will take is nothing compared to the recovery time of an injury resulting from carelessness.
This Old House: How to Use a Ladder Safely
OSHA Fact Sheet: Reducing Falls in Construction: Safe Use of Extension Ladders
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Drowsy Driving