Spend Your Holiday at Home – Not in the ER

The holidays are always great times to spend with your family. However, as an emergency room physician, I’ve unfortunately seen it all at a time when people are supposed to be celebrating.

This blog may scare the daylights out of you – but it’s my duty. You can still enjoy a very glorious holiday season and avoid a tragedy simply by paying extra attention to the ones you love the most.

Children are at increased risk because of the decreased awareness of their presence. When people are trimming their trees, there are small ornaments, broken ornaments, and small light bulbs just waiting for a young, unsuspecting child to put such a thing in their mouths. In the ER, I have had to surgically remove ornament hooks from the windpipes of small children.

And that tree sitting proudly in your living room, although very beautiful, can also be a hazard. Make sure to keep your Christmas tree moist and watered at all times. You must remember that there are electrical wires running through that tree and, if the tree is dry and brittle, it becomes a fire hazard.

I want everyone that is reading this right now to pause, and go check your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detector. We never check these detectors because we forget about them. It’s very important that you check your carbon monoxide detector because, at this time of the year, you are usually using your heaters. If your heater malfunctions, it can emit carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can kill you. Because of all the fire hazards associated with Christmas trees, Christmas lights and lit Menorah candles, thousands of people will lose their homes due to fires this holiday season. It’s very important that you keep your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in tip-top working shape.

Holly berries, mistletoe berries and poinsettias are toxic. Be careful to make sure that neither children nor pets eat these poisonous plants.

Don’t leave alcoholic drinks unattended. Alcoholic eggnog, cider and many other drinks look very appetizing to young children. Please remember that it doesn’t take a lot of alcohol to inebriate a child and, in some severe circumstances, acute alcohol poisoning can occur.

And one last thing, if I hear about another person that’s trying to fry a turkey for the first time on the day that you are trying to eat it, I’m going to scream! If you want to fry a turkey for the first time on Christmas Day, please make sure you start taking lessons/classes now!