With the excitement of the hustle and bustle surrounding the holidays often comes an increased probability of various injuries. Approximately 250 people a day are hurt by decorating accidents between Nov. 1 and the end of December every year. Nearly a third of these injuries are the result of falling off a ladder, while another large percentage are typically neck or back related injuries. At AOK, we want you and your family to have the most enjoyable holiday season and healthiest start to the New Year. Here are some common injuries we see while people are decking the halls, and prevention tips to help your family avoid such accidents:
Falls from decorating:
People of all ages are susceptible to fracturing their hand, wrist, ankle or other bones in the body by falling when decorating. Many of these injuries occur when people step on furniture, rather than use the proper step stool or ladder, when hanging their decor. Although not as common, it is also possible for people to dislocate their shoulder or tear the meniscus (fibrocartilage) in their knee by such falls. The arms of a sofa or the corner of a side table may be more accessible, but they are incredibly risky and should be avoided in order to prevent potential injuries.
- Select the right ladder for the job. When working at low to medium heights, a step ladder or utility ladder will suffice. However, extension ladders are ideal for outdoor use when reaching higher places such as the rooftop. The weight of the person using the ladder should never exceed the maximum load capacity of the ladder or step stool.
- Properly set up the ladder before use. Make sure the ladder is sitting on firm, level ground. Be cautious of soft, muddy spots or uneven flooring as those type of areas should always be avoided. If possible, have a helper on the ground to hold the base of ladder steady. Don’t lean too far to either side of the ladder. Move the ladder to the spot you need to reach.
- Inspect ladders and stools before using. Check for any loose screws, hinges, or rungs that may have been overlooked and fixed from the last use.
Don’t forget that taking down the decorations can be just as dangerous as putting them up so follow all rules before and after the holiday season!
Lifting and carrying too much:
Many people suffer from herniated discs or strained muscles in their neck or back while lifting and carrying large, heavy Christmas trees and boxes of decorations.
- When carrying heavy or awkward sized objects, make sure to always use proper lifting techniques. Squat down and bend at the knees when picking up an object, rather than bending over at the waist. This technique is important regardless of the weight of the object, but the rule is especially important for boxes or items reaching or exceeding 20 pounds. Additionally, make sure to not rotate your body once you lift the item. Instead, pick the object straight up and turn your entire body as this will help you avoid straining muscles in your back and neck.
Doing too much, too quickly
Many times people want to cram all of their holiday decorating within one day. The increased level of activity can lead to acute tendinitis in the knee or impingement in the shoulder.
Decorating for the holidays is not something we do every day so our bodies might not be used to running up and down a ladder all day hanging lights on the house. If you can spread out the decorating over a few days or week, this may help you avoid a flare up of acute tendinitis or impingement. Another idea is to have a helper to assist you with the decorations.
We hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season. If you do end up with an injury over the holidays, you can trust the team of physicians and specialists at AOK for all of your orthopedic needs!