holiday injuries


Avoid Common Holiday Injuries When Hanging Up Lights, Overpacking for Trips or Consuming Excessive Alcohol

The focus during this time of year is on joyous gatherings with family and friends. But the holiday period also has a distinction of seeing an increase in injuries— many of which occur while putting up or taking down outdoor lighting on ladders or lifting heavy objects or excessive drinking that can cause falls or other accidents.


Matthew Ciminero, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.


Exercise extreme caution is the advice healthcare providers relay to all holiday revelers. Injuries during the holidays can impact a person’s bones and ligaments like mishaps any other time of year. But during the holidays, there are traditions, such as putting up decorative lights around a home, which can result in serious accidents, explains Matthew Ciminero, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.


“The most common injuries during the holidays remain the most common ones throughout the rest of the year — hip fractures, shoulder fractures, wrist fractures, and ankle fractures from ground-level trips and falls,” said Dr. Ciminero. “Occasionally, we see some falls from ladders and roof tops from hanging lights that lead to slightly higher energy injuries such as pilon fractures, which are axial loading crush injuries to the joint surface of the ankle.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 60,000 visits to doctors' offices, emergency rooms, and clinics in 2019 for injuries related to holiday decorating and decorations. “This includes everything from falls while hanging lights and other decorations to hand and other extremity injuries due to artificial trees and stands, lights, and other adornments,” states the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Moreover, older adults are more vulnerable to serious injuries from falls in households during the holidays, or at any time. So, caution is necessary when it comes to gifts, toys or other items on the floor, especially if adults 65 years of age or older live in your household.

Traveling during the holidays can also lead to injuries. More than 72,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors' offices, and clinics for injuries related to carrying luggage in 2019, the AAOS said. Injuries to the back, neck, and shoulder can be caused by struggling with heavy, over-packed luggage.

Injuries related to winter sports -- such as snowboarding, snow skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding -- accounted for more than 186,000 visits to ERs, doctors' offices, and clinics in 2019.

“Usually, people with skiing or snowboarding injuries get treated out at the ski locations, and those tend to be ligamentous injuries of the knee, such as ACL tears, which are treated by orthopedic sports medicine surgeons. But sometimes, they need follow-up care with orthopedic surgeons back home after returning from their trip.” 


Dr. Ciminero provides the following advice for staying safe during the holidays and avoiding traumatic injuries:

  1. Don't drink and drive; and make sure to wear seatbelts.
  2. If you're over the age of 60, have a younger family member available to help with hanging lights on the house from a ladder or roof top. That would likely be safer.
  3. Wear a helmet when on bicycles and scooters. 
  4. Make sure the house is free of clutter, so the grandmas and grandpas don't trip and fall when they're coming over for a holiday dinner. 

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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