HomeHealthMedicineTips to Stay out of the ER this Holiday Season

Tips to Stay out of the ER this Holiday Season

Cooking during the holidays is a timeless tradition, often an opportunity to share recipes and get together with family and friends. While the holidays are peaceful and joyous for many, emergency room (ER) staff will tell you a different story.

Each year, ER employees see a spike in accidents on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, due to cooking injuries, stress, and the large number of people driving during the holidays. Safety is more at stake than you may think.

Angela Wright, physicianassistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and medical director for UCHealth Denver Metro Emergency Services (EMS) knows firsthand what healthcare professionals encounter when assisting emergency patients during the holidays. Wright oversees EMS teams in areas east of Denver, where ambulance patients are cared for and then transported to the appropriate hospital based on their injury.

She shares some tips for avoiding the ER this holiday season.

Most common injury in the kitchen

In the rush to meet family and friends or to try a new holiday recipe, the simplest things can result in an emergency room visit.

“Rt wounds or lacerations are one of the most common cooking injuries during the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving,” says Wright. “People can feel rushed when carving or preparing a turkey, and before they know it, they’ve carved something they don’t want.”

Wright recommends that people don’t wait to act on the injury, wash it out immediately, and get to the hospital as soon as possible if the bleeding can’t be controlled or if the cut seems severe. As hard as it is to leave your friends or family behind, there can be worse health consequences if you wait to take care of the injury. Fortunately, most cuts can heal within a few weeks of an ER visit.

Be careful with that turkey

Make sure you try things out before the big day. Wright says many ER patients with injuries tend to try a new recipe without testing it first, such as roasting a turkey.

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“You’d be surprised at the number of ways people try to cook a turkey, such as deep-frying or trying a new method that creates a spark, fire, or potential property damage, in addition to endangering loved ones,” says Wright. Another safety concern is carbon monoxide poisoning when the temperature drops. “Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in time to keep your guests safe. During these cold months, gas heaters are widely used and can pose risks. In addition, make sure that propane and other gas grills are not used indoors or in the garage.

While most injuries can be minor and recovery is quick, property damage, on the other hand, is more difficult to repair. Cookery fires cause an average of 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Foodborne illness is also common when large meals are prepared by several people.

“There’s a reason the turkey should be cooked at a minimum of 165 degrees,” says Wright. “Use a meat thermometer and take your time with your recipes. Test them out ahead of time and ask for a helper if you need one. The last thing you want is to be in the ER away from your friends or family you planned to spend time with.

Pass the keys

A poignant holiday statistic is that one of the leading causes of holiday ER visits is car accidents from drunk driving. Over the past five years on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, the emergency medical system in the Wright area alone, including ambulances and the ER, has attended to more than 200 patients following motor vehicle collisions, many involving drunk driving. the influence. Driving under the influence can not only result in personal injury, but can also endanger the lives of everyone on the road.

Amidst the holiday cheer, people tend to drive during the day on Thanksgiving, making it the riskiest day to leave all the holidays behind.

“People like to have a few glasses of wine with the family over dinner. It’s part of how some people like to celebrate, but there are ways to check in with your friends and family who may be drinking too much to drive home safely,” says Wright. “Approach them with care and love when you offer help. It may even be worth preparing a few extra guests to stay the night if alcohol is involved.”

Wright strongly recommends staying completely off the road during vacations for added safety precautions.

The stress of the family

In addition to the dangers of cooking and driving, the stress of the holiday season can sometimes escalate family and health situations.

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“The day after major holidays, we sometimes see elderly people experience heart attack, stroke, or infectious symptoms. Some of these conditions can be exacerbated by the commotion of getting together and participating in activities that the person is not used to at their age,” says Wright. “Often they wait a day to come to the emergency room after they get complaints, because they don’t want to disturb the family. Be sure to ask older family members in advance how they would like to be accommodated and where they feel most comfortable if they need a place to rest. And if you notice that a family member seems ill, don’t wait. Bring them in.”

Wright also recommends practicing self-care activities during the few days or week you spend with family, such as taking a short walk or having restful alone time. Family and partner violence is an unfortunate consequence of holiday stress and a delicate situation for victims who need medical care.

“In the event that a conversation escalates, the most important thing is to remove yourself from the situation first and foremost,” says Wright.

Abuse can come in many forms and sometimes in ways that outwardly do not appear dangerous. Wright recommends using the warning signs of abuseor call 800-799-SAFE (7233) if you or a family member is in danger.

Give thanks to those who care about you

As hard and busy as it is to work on holidays, Wright says EMS and ER employees are used to working during the holidays and have found time to celebrate together.

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“Work family becomes real family. We’re lucky to bond when we work together on vacation,” says Wright. “In the Aurora area, first responders will bond at their stations, so there is usually a big potluck and food sharing during breaks between all the first responders. Family members come to the agency and also share their appreciation. Our crews are incredible, brave and recognize the importance of showing up to care for their community.

Vacation Rental Safety Checklist:

  • Wash large cuts immediately with soap and water only and come to the emergency room.
  • Don’t test new recipes today. Practice ahead of time and ask for help if it gets to the point where you’re in a hurry.
  • Reduce the risk of foodborne illness by investing in a meat thermometer.
  • Do not use a gas grill indoors or in the garage.
  • Replace the batteries of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Check in with family and friends driving home after drinking alcohol. Offer to help in a caring way if they’re not sure if they should drive home.
  • If possible, stay off the roads on major holidays.
  • If you notice that a stressful family conversation has escalated and borders on abusive, remove yourself from the situation and call 800-799-SAFE (7233) if someone is in danger.
  • Practice self-care activities when situations feel stressful.
  • Give elderly relatives and friends opportunities to rest.
  • If you have an emergency, don’t wait. Call 911.



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