Don’t use a knife to open a Christmas present.
That’s one lesson gleaned from poring over a database of injuries maintained by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission collects patient information from hospital emergency departments for injuries involving consumer products.
Injuries can happen any time, but Christmas day carries its own set of dangers. Going to the emergency room isn't at the top of anyone’s list on Christmas day. The holiday is for spending time with loved ones exchanging gifts and toasting with eggnog in front of a crackling fire – not sitting in a cold hospital waiting room waiting to see medial professionals.
One way to prevent a holiday disruption?
Don’t get carried away with the nog. Holiday drinking accounts for some serious injuries, as the database documents. One particular case speaks of a 49-year-old woman drank too much and fell over the rail of a third floor balcony, suffering multiple fractures.
The commission estimated 36,788 injuries on Dec. 25, 2016; whereas the estimate for Dec. 24, 2016 was 31,209.
Lacerations from using knives to open presents.
Among other entries:
- A 19-year-old cut open his thumb using a fishing knife to open a child’s toy.
- A 26-year-old woman cut her thumb with a bread knife trying to open her child’s present.
- A 30-year-old man slashed his forearm when the kitchen knife he was using to open a present and slipped.
In one case, a father accidentally cut his 3-year-old daughter’s wrist when the knife he was using to open a gift that slipped.
Knives aren’t the only thing to avoid when opening presents. An 11-year-old boy slashed his thumb trying to open a present with a hatchet.
An ever-"present" danger
In some cases, it was the gift itself that presented the danger: at least two people cut themselves with pocket knives received as gifts.
One case documents a 6-year-old who was riding a dirt bike he got for Christmas when he ran into a concrete drainage barrier going 25-45 miles per hour. He suffered facial injuries and a lacerated liver.
Another case talks about a 10-year-old who fell off his new hoverboard, breaking his arm, and a 51-year-old trying out his son’s new hoverboard fell off and hit his head (the database did not indicate whether the same hoverboard was involved).
Decorations can be dangerous.
What about the decorations you use to make your home feel cozy during the holiday season? Well, those decorations can cause some dangerous situations. Small children tend to ingest or put pieces of decorations in their ears or noses.
Two documented cases include:
- A 4-year-old who ate a decoration that was not described except to say it was ‘non-electric.’
- A 2-year-old who put a piece of an ornament in his nose.
Tripping and falling is a danger.
While unwrapping presents, toys and various other items could lay thrown across the house. These items, along with others, cause many tripping hazards.
In one case, a 78-year-old woman tripped on a tree skirt and broke her arm. In another, a 79-year-old woman adjusting decorations in her front yard fell and broke her hip.
For some families, holiday activities include outdoor sports, which, unsurprisingly sometimes result in sprains, strains or broken bones.
Ice skating, bicycling, skateboarding, trampoline, skiing, soccer and football were blamed for several Christmas day injuries last year.
In the most extreme case, a 42-year-old man died after suffering a heart attack during a particularly ‘vigorous’ game of basketball.
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