By Lauren Glendenning, For Memorial Regional Health
The Holiday Season Is a Busy Time for Hospitals and Emergency Rooms
The time between Christmas and New Year’s Day has the highest incidence of cardiac-related deaths for the whole year, according to the American Heart Association.
“There are a range of theories that may explain the spike in deaths during the holiday season, including the emotional stress associated with the holidays, changes in diet and alcohol consumption, less staff at medical facilities and changes in the physical environment (for example, visiting relatives),” according to the AHA.
Heart incidents aren’t the only health emergencies that spike during the holiday season, though. People also visit the emergency room often for house fires and falls around the home during the holidays, according to Consumer Reports.
Here’s a list of ways to stay safe between now and the new year.
Be Careful as You Put up and Take Down Holiday Decorations
Every holiday season, 12,000 to 15,000 people end up in the emergency room as a result of accidents related to decorating, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Avoid accidents by:
- Making sure any ladder you climb is on a firm, level surface.
- Always have someone spot you.
- Heed other warning labels on ladders.
- Don’t drink and climb.
- Be cautious when walking outside on icy ground, especially in the dark.
- Keep burning candles within sight.
- Use lights that have been product-tested and certified.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace.
Know When to Visit the Emergency Room
Stick with Rapid Care for sprained muscles, broken bones and cuts that need stitching up, according to Consumer Reports.
“Go to the emergency room for any symptoms that are cardiac or neurological in nature: chest pains, trouble breathing, dizziness, fainting or sudden unexplained numbness, especially on just one side of the body,” according to Consumer Reports. “You should also go straight to an ER if you are bleeding uncontrollably.”
If You Have a Pre-Existing Heart Condition, Take Precautions to Avoid a Holiday Heart Event
- Take medications as your doctor has prescribed.
- Follow up with your doctor as often as recommended.
- Participate in cardiac rehabilitation to improve your recovery, increase your physical fitness, address sources of stress and adopt heart-healthy habits.
- Manage risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Use medications and lifestyle changes to lower your risk of another heart attack.
- Get support by sharing your journey with family and friends to help reduce anxiety and loneliness.
(Source: American Heart Association)
Practice Good Health and Safety Habits
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and clean running water, and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Stay warm. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry, and dress warmly in several layers.
- Manage stress. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep.
- Supervise children at all times, especially while they’re eating and playing.
- Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees and curtains.
- Never leave fireplaces, stoves or candles unattended.
- Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them often and replace batteries twice a year.
- Handle and prepare food safely. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate foods promptly (don’t leave food out for more than two hours).
- Travel safely; Never drink and drive. Don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using the appropriate safety seat.
Emergency Room and Rapid Care at MRH
The MRH Emergency Room is open 24/7 and is located at The Memorial Hospital at Craig, 750 Hospital Loop, Craig. If an emergency does occur this holiday season, seek medical assistance immediately.
Craig Rapid Care is located at 2020 W. Victory Way (in front of Walmart). During the holiday season, the clinic will be open for normal business hours, but will close for Christmas Day (Dec. 25) and New Years Day (Jan. 1).
For more information, call 970-826-8300.