Seniors and the Holidays: How to Avoid Common Accidents
The holidays are considered by many to be the most wonderful time of the year. People of all ages, including seniors, often find the wintertime holidays truly special. With these positive attributes noted, there are also some risks associated with the holiday season potential for accidents that are heightened during the wintertime holiday period. In this article, we review some of the more commonplace holiday season accidents and steps that seniors can take to avoid these mishaps and associated injuries.
The most frequently occurring accidents that occur during the holiday season are:
- Falling while decorating
- Tripping over decorations
- Burning candles without precautions
- Traveling without medications
- Slipping on snow or ice
- Cooking and baking mishaps
- Christmas tree fires
Falling While Decorating
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2019, more than 14,000 individuals were treated in emergency rooms for winter holiday season decorating-related injuries. A notable percentage of these people were seniors.
There are some practical and necessary tips to keep in mind to enhance safety if you are a senior who will be decorating during the holidays:
- Make sure you have a sturdy ladder that’s in good condition.
- Always use a safety harness when working at height.
- Take your time and be careful when reaching for or moving decorations.
- Keep your cords and wires out of the way so you don’t trip on them.
- If you’re using lights, ensure they are in good condition and don’t overload circuits.
- Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks to avoid getting tired.
- Have someone else help you, especially if you’re working on a high ladder.
Following these tips can help reduce your risk of injury while decorating your home for the holidays.
Tripping Over Decorations
Tripping over holiday decorations is a common accident that can lead to serious injuries. Some simple safety tips can help prevent these accidents from happening. First, ensure your decorations are securely fastened to the wall or floor. If you use a ladder to hang ornaments, use caution and follow all safety guidelines.
It is also important to keep walkways clear of obstacles. Make sure to put away any toys or other items that might cause someone to trip. And finally, be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you carry many packages or walk in a crowded area, be extra vigilant and watch where you are going.
Burning Candles Without Precautions
One way to make your house feel festive is to light some candles. But before you do, there are a few things you need to know about burning candles safely.
The most important thing to remember is that candles should never be left unattended. If you’re leaving the house, ensure all the candles are extinguished.
Another thing to remember is that candles should never be burned near flammable objects. Keep them away from curtains, decorations, and other things that could easily catch fire.
Finally, ensure you use appropriate holders for your candles. Glass and ceramic holders are the best option, as they won’t easily tip over.
With these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy your holiday candles and avoid injury and damage to your home.
Traveling Without Medications
As surprising as this may seem, people take off on a trip and forget to pack their much-needed medications with alarming regularity. Every year, travelers – including seniors – end up at their destinations without medications. They then must scramble to find a way to get their medications in hand. In some instances, medications cannot be immediately replaced, and a person who leaves on a trip without them will experience the ill effects of not being able to take necessary meds.
Slipping on Snow or Ice
Slipping on snow and ice can have serious consequences. Slips and falls are the leading cause of injuries in the United States, accounting for more than 8 million emergency room visits annually.
People over the age of 65 are at the highest risk for slipping and falling, as are those who are overweight or have a history of falls. But anyone can be injured in a fall, regardless of age or health status.
Some common consequences of slipping on snow and ice include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
Slipping on snow and ice can also lead to death. More than 1,600 people die from slips and fall in winter. Many of these people are seniors. If you slip and fall, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Cooking and Baking Mishaps
Cooking and baking injuries among seniors are common during the holiday season. Whether it’s a result of rushing to get everything done or trying new recipes, there are several ways to get injured in the kitchen.
The most common cooking injuries are burns and cuts. Burns can occur when someone reaches for something on the stovetop, touches a hot pan, or spills scalding liquid. Cuts can happen when someone chops vegetables on a cutting board, slices meat on a butcher block or breaks eggs into a bowl.
Both burns and cuts can be very serious injuries. Burns can cause skin damage and blisters which may require medical attention. Cuts can lead to infections if not properly treated and may also need medical attention.
To avoid these injuries, it is important to take precautions while cooking. Be careful when reaching for things on the stovetop, use oven mitts when handling hot pans, and always use caution when slicing meat or breaking eggs.
If you do happen to get burned or cut while cooking, follow these steps:
- Run cold water over the burn for several minutes. This will help cool the burn and reduce the pain.
- Put ice on the burn to help reduce swelling.
- If the burn is on your hand or arm, elevate it above your heart to reduce swelling.
- Apply a bandage to the burn or cut to protect it from further injury.
- See a doctor if the injury is severe.
Christmas Tree Fires
Christmas trees are a popular holiday decoration but can also be a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas tree fires cause an average of 150 deaths and $26 million in property damage each year.
You can do several things to minimize the risk of a Christmas tree fire. First, make sure your tree is well-watered. A dry tree is more likely to catch on fire. Also, ensure the tree is not near any heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces.
If you have an artificial Christmas tree, be sure to check the batteries in the lights regularly. And never leave your tree lit unattended. If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, turn off the lights on your tree.
If you experience a Christmas tree fire, know how to extinguish it safely. Never use water to put out a fire in a Christmas tree. Doing so will only make the problem worse. Instead, use a Class C fire extinguisher.
In conclusion, by keeping safety at the top of the list, seniors can remain on track to enjoy the holiday season. They will be able to make memories rather than face recuperation after suffering holiday-related injuries.