Holiday health and safety tips

“It’s not a holiday without a trip to the emergency room.”

That may sound like an attempt at dark humor, but the saying rings true at our house.

Mishaps and maladies are rife when you factor in the sheer size of our crowd. My husband has nine brothers and sisters. Then there are all the spouses, kids and even some grandkids. And that’s just his side of the family. Put us all together and it can be a disaster waiting to happen. Food poisoning, allergic reactions, animal bites — oh, the holiday memories!

My nana broke her hip when she slipped on that pile of wrapping paper that always seems to get underfoot Christmas morning. And one Thanksgiving, my cousins and I started a fire, the result of being careless with a pile of firecrackers, sparklers and the like. Yep, highly flammable. Lesson learned. (Thankfully, damage was minimal, and the biggest injury was embarrassment.)

So far, none of us has fallen off the roof stringing holiday lights. But the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that, on average, about 12,000 Americans are treated in emergency rooms during November and December due to holiday decorating-related incidents.

You can learn ways to stay safe this holiday on the commission’s website ( Also, keep these things in mind regarding:

Food safety. Maintain proper food temperatures to guard against spoilage. Ask your holiday guests about possible food allergies.

Fire. Keep live trees watered and away from heat sources. Never leave candles unattended. Christmas tree and candle-related house fires cause an annual average of 167 deaths and nearly $400 million in property damage, according to the CPSC.   

Falls. Throw salt on icy walkways. Keep the floor clear of packages, toys and wrappings. And watch those extension cords! See other safeguards from falls, which can be particularly troublesome for older family members.

Nobody wants to spend their holiday in the emergency room. So be diligent and watch your step.

Stay on schedule with regular medications, and remember that many don’t mix with alcohol.

And here’s a house rule passed down from my mother-in-law: “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Norton Healthcare’s 12 Norton Immediate Care Centers and six emergency departments never take a holiday.
Find hours and locations.

–Mickey Gramig