Cedars-Sinai’s Dr. Victoria Kang explains how to stay out of the ER this holiday
By Shanee Edwards
The U.S. Consumer Safety Products Commission estimates that more than 15,000 injuries directly related to holiday decorating send people to the ER every November and December. Here’s what you need to know to protect you and your loved ones this holiday season:
“The rule of thumb,” says Dr. Victoria Kang of Playa Vista’s Cedars-Sinai Urgent Care, “is don’t drink and decorate. You should have a designated decorator.”
So save the hot spiced wine until after you’ve hung the Christmas lights. Kang also urges people to look out for elderly family members by not letting them decorate alone.
“Falling is really funny in the movies but, unfortunately, it happens a lot when people are hanging lights and ornaments,” says Kang, who urges people to inspect their ladders thoroughly before climbing them.
“Make sure there are no cracks or missing screws, and that there’s no water or oil on the steps. Always stay in the center of the rung where you’re stepping. If a falling injury should occur, seek medical attention immediately,” she says.
Burns and Fire Safety
“Make sure you have a working smoke detector in the house and that you know where the fire extinguisher is in the building,” says Kang. “People do a lot of cooking during the holidays, so they should always use kitchen mitts and hot pads when handling hot pots.”
Another warning has to do with children and tablecloths: “Little ones can pull the tablecloths and take down burning candles or soup bowls, causing scalding injuries. If you’re cooking near an open flame, be careful loose clothing doesn’t catch fire.”
If you’re going to bring a live tree into your home, make sure it’s fresh; if you’re getting an artificial tree, make sure the label says it’s fire-resistant.
“If someone does get a burn,” says Kang, “the first thing to do is remove the clothing that’s covering the burn. Clean the area with plain soap and water. Then, rinse the burn under cold, running water for about 10 minutes to cool down the skin area. Don’t use ice, because ice can cause frostbite and cause another injury on top of the burn.”
She says to seek medical attention if the burn area involves your hands, feet, face or genitalia and if the size of the burn is larger than your hand, or if the patient is elderly or a small child.
Knives and scissors are everywhere during the holiday, whether people are cutting meat or wrapping presents.
“When you’re cutting, always cut away from yourself and away from others. Your free hand should be on the opposite side of the item you are cutting. Make sure you use a tool that’s appropriate for the task. The knife should be adequately sharpened because if the knife is dull, you’ll need to use excessive force, which can cause injuries,” says Kang. “If a laceration should occur, the first thing is to apply direct pressure then elevate it above your heart. Clean the area with running water and then seek medical attention.”