Holiday Health and Safety Tips

Christmas is just around the corner! This week is guaranteed to be busy, with last-minute decorating, shopping, baking and wrapping presents. But while it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the most dangerous. With all of the hustle and bustle, local emergency rooms usually see an increase in injuries, according to the Dallas Medical Center. Keep reading for some tips to help you enjoy a fun and safe holiday season. If you do end up in a jam, just head to Dallas Medical Center, a Trauma Center and Certified Chest Pain Center conveniently located at the intersection of I-635 and Webb Chapel in the North Dallas Corridor.

When it comes to holiday cooking, remember a few tips to ensure you and your family stay healthy. Thaw meats appropriately, either in the refrigerator, or by putting them in a container with a constant trickle of cool water. Make sure to keep raw and cooked foods separate, and regularly clean your cooking surfaces. Keep kids and pets away from hot surfaces – and now is the time to have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher handy. Remember, if you have a grease fire, do NOT add water; instead, use anything which will smother the fire, such as flour, salt, a lid, sheet pan or dish towels.

With lots of cooking comes the possibility of knife mishaps and burns. “If you sustain a laceration, rinse it off with soap and water,” said Don Timm, MD, an ER physician at Dallas Medical Center. “If the bleeding stops quickly and it’s a minor cut, use antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid. If you get burned, treat the burn with cool water and take an anti-inflammatory. If the burn covers a large area or severe blistering occurs, seek treatment in an ER.”

And with all that food comes the possibility of choking and the need for the Heimlich maneuver. If it’s been a while since you’ve learned about the Heimlich maneuver, you may have forgotten how to do it.

“With the patient standing or sitting, place your arms under the patient’s arm and around patient’s abdomen above their navel, but below their breastbone,” said Timm. “Form a fist with one hand, placing it on patient’s abdomen, grab hand with your other hand. Make quick successive thrusts by pulling inward and upward at the same time; the thrusts should be forceful. Continue with the thrusts until the object is removed, usually by the patient spitting out the object.”

 You can’t always control when you are going to choke, and sometimes you could be eating pumpkin pie and start choking with no one around. “If performing the Heimlich maneuver on yourself, first try forcefully coughing,” said Timm. “If this fails to dislodge the object, place one fist on your abdomen above navel and below breastbone and grab the fist with your other hand. Perform quick inward and upward forceful thrusts. If unsuccessful, place yourself against a table edge, counter or back of chair, and with hands in the same position, drive your body forcefully into the solid object.”

Timm also recommends using less force with children to avoid internal injuries. And the most important thing to remember is to act quickly. “Time is important when someone is choking,” explained Timm. “Always have someone else call 911 while you quickly get ready to perform the maneuver.”

Of course, food-related injuries aren’t the only thing that could happen this time of year. Decorating mishaps are common as well.

“When decorating, do not stand on chairs, as they can easily tip over – instead, use a small ladder and have a family member assist you,” explained Timm. “Also, avoid getting on the roof or climbing a tree because too many falls occur, which result in broken bones, lacerations and head/neck/back injuries. Deaths have even occurred from falls like these from heights as low as six feet.”

“If you develop an injury, such as a sprain to a joint, you should elevate it, ice it and take anti-inflammatories such as Motrin or Aleve,” added Timm. “If the pain persists or you see any deformity, seek medical advice in an ER.

If you do get hurt, you have many options to get taken care of! The Emergency Room at Dallas Medical Center is a full-service ER with little to no wait. You will be treated by a nurse quickly and be seen by a physician soon after. “Because we are a hospital, we also have specialists available for any serious injuries needing care beyond the scope of an ER doctor, as well as advanced imaging machines, a full biomedical lab and a number of operating suites,” explained Timm.

And, if you get sick this holiday season, be sure to schedule an appointment for rapid-results COVID-19 drive-up testing at Dallas Medical Center, where you can find out results in about 15 minutes.

We hope everyone has a very happy, and safe, holiday season!

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