“At the beginning of the season when people are starting to put up lights, we see a lot of fall injuries from people getting on ladders,” she says. “It’s important to make sure you have somebody there with you holding the ladder. We get a lot of falls when people are coming down the ladder. Having someone there to stabilize can really help prevent those injuries.”
Stam also says that following the ladder manufacturer’s safety recommendations is huge.
“Don’t go past the top couple of rungs on the ladder. I think people ignore the labels and go to the top rungs and that is when they can slip and fall. Being aware of the recommendations and having someone there to assist you is a big step in preventing injury.”
Last year McKay-Dee Hospital saw 73 accidents related to decorating including falls and electrical accidents in the Emergency Room from October to December, compared to just 57 related accidents the rest of the year. Stam says that jump is common during the holiday season, and in 2014 the E.R. saw an increase of 20 percent in accidents from the previous year.
In addition to ladder safety, Stam says that taking precautions for winter weather can help prevent a trip to the emergency room.
“Once the snow comes, we start to see black ice in driveways and parking lots. Black ice is harder to see than visible ice. If you look, you can tell the difference. The black ice is shinier. Being conscientious of that and looking out for the shiny spots can help prevent slips and falls.”
She says that the parking lot is similar to the road in preventing accidents and injuries.
“It is just like when you are driving. If you are aware of the shiny spots and you know those are black ice then you can avoid them.”
Another common cause of trauma during the holidays happens during travel says Stam.
“Obviously most people are aware that conditions during snowstorms are not the best for driving and we want them to think that way,” she says. “But a common thing that we see in the E.R. is injuries caused from crashes because people are going fast down the freeway on a clear day when ice is present. During the storm most people take caution, but if they would take that same caution on clear cold days that can help avoid accidents and injuries.”
Falls related to weather are one thing to be aware of during the holidays, but Stam says it is not the only season related injuries she sees in the E.R.
“We do see a higher domestic violence rate during this time” she says.
“There is a lot more tension and we are around family members and that can cause stress.”
Stam says that there are resources available in Utah to help cope with the added stresses that the holidays can sometimes bring.
“There are a number of domestic violence hotlines. If you think you are in danger you can call and get some help. There are also a number of other ways to get help if you need it.”
Information about the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline can be found at http://udvc.org/utah-domestic-violence-help/find-help