Central Missouri Holiday Safety

Many common holiday activities in Central Missouri may cause injuries that can make any holiday season far from jolly.

As an example, around 39,700 individuals were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries during the 2010 Christmas season, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, over 12,100 visits to emergency departments resulted from activities associated with decorating for the Christmas season.

On top of that, more than 54,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics, and other medical settings for injuries related to carrying luggage in 2009, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Injuries to the spine, neck, and shoulder can be brought on by struggling with heavy, over-packed baggage.

central missouri orthopedics Spondylitis aging ankle pain orthopedicsWinter sports-related injuries (such as snowboarding, snow skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding (sleds, toboggans, snow discs, etcetera), accounted for over 144,200 visits to hospital emergency departments in 2009.

The stressful pace of the holiday season may cause people to unwittingly let their guard down, causing them to be more susceptible to bone, joint, and muscle-related injuries.

Audrain Orthopaedics in Mexico, MO would like adults and youngsters to understand that, whether at home or vacationing in cold-weather climates, they're able to avoid injuries by being more careful and drinking in moderation.

Fall Prevention

  • Never drink and decorate. Save the celebratory drink for once the lights are up and illuminated.
  • Select the right ladder for the task. When working from lower and medium heights, pick step stools or utility ladders. Extension ladders are great for use outside to reach high places, like when hanging things from the rooftop. The extra weight the ladder is supporting shouldn't ever go beyond its maximum load capacity.
  • Examine ladders for loose screws, hinges, or rungs which may not have been repaired from last usage. Clean off any mud or liquids that have amassed on the ladder.
  • Properly set up the ladder on a firm, level surface. Watch for softer, muddy areas or uneven flooring, and never place a ladder on ground that is uneven. Remember the 1-to-4 rule: the bottom of the ladder ought to be 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder goes up.
  • Be careful when putting up holiday decorations, like lights and trees. Move materials with care when on the ladder, and always put the ladder near the work area, so you do not lose your balance and fall. Wear proper footwear with firmly tied shoelaces.
  • Use a step stool instead of furniture to stand on when you require a few inches to hang a wreath or picture.
  • Keep an eye on any rearranged furnishings and new decorations and make sure other people in your house are familiar with the changes too. Serious falls can happen when folks trip over furniture placed in what had previously been open space.
  • Ask for help when moving heavy or awkward items.
  • Reduce clutter and keep pathways free from decorations, gift boxes, and other items that can trip you up.

Tricks for Transporting Luggage

  • Pack light and employ luggage with wheels when traveling.
  • Take care when putting luggage in an overhead compartment. First, lift it to the top of the seat. Then, with hands positioned on the left and right edges of the suitcase, raise it up. If your luggage has wheels, be sure that the wheel side is set in the compartment first. When wheels are inside, place one hand on top of the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment. To remove the luggage, reverse this process.
  • Do not rush when raising or carrying a suitcase or heavy package. If a piece of luggage is just too difficult when traveling, either check it or ask for assistance. At the mall, minimize heavy loads by making regular trips to your car.
  • Always utilize proper 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.

Winter Sports Safety

  • Wear proper protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves, and padding. For heat and protection when playing outdoors, wear several layers of light, loose, and water- and wind-resistant clothes. Layering will allow you to accommodate your body's frequently changing temperature.
  • Loosen up muscles with light exercise for ten minutes. Begin your lifting routines with manageable weights and never overdo aerobic activities. Replenish fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Know and adhere to all rules of the winter sport in which you are participating. Make sure equipment is in good working order and used correctly. When hitting the slopes, get a lesson (or several) from a qualified instructor. Learn how to fall correctly to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Seek shelter and medical assistance right away if you or someone with you is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite when in the cold.

Advice for Safely Surviving Winter

  • Speak with your doctor prior to clearing the driveway and sidewalk of snow if you have had heart or vascular problems. Do this whether or not you utilize a shovel or snow blower.
  • Never stick your hands in the snow blower. If snow ends up being too impacted, stop the motor and wait over 5 seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Watch out for the recoil of the motor and blades once the machine has been switched off.
  • Loosen up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise and take frequent breaks. Shoveling snow is comparable to weight lifting. Replenish fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Clear snow early and often. Get started when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid shoveling packed, heavy snow. Don't throw the snow over your shoulder or sideways. This requires a twisting motion which places stress on your back.
  • Put on appropriate footwear and look in front of you. Ice can cause abrupt and serious falls. If you find yourself falling, make an effort to fall on your side or bottom. Roll over naturally, turning your head in the direction of the roll.
  • Drive cautiously. Allow lots of time to brake as you're approaching stop signs and red lights, and lower speed in hazardous conditions.

As you can understand, the most wonderful time of the year may also be the most dangerous if you're not cautious. If you do get hurt this Christmas season, contact Dr. Kathleen Weaver of Audrain Orthopaedics in Mexico, Missouri.

I want to thank you for your determination to find out what was causing my problem. It was through your thoroughness and will to not give up on me that I have found relief.

S.B. age 23