When you’re lighting the fireplace for the first time, cooking dinner for a family of 12 or just having some good old-fashioned fun this holiday season, it can be easy to get carried away. Just be careful not to let your yuletide party antics lead you straight to the emergency room! We talked to Dr. Jerry Allison, an emergency room physician at Dallas Medical Center, to get some advice on how to stay safe during the holidays. Of course, if you do end up in a pickle, just head straight to Dallas Medical Center, located at the intersection of 635 and Webb Chapel. This designated Trauma Center and Certified Chest Pain Center is used to seeing the injuries below!
When it comes to holiday cooking, remember a few tips to ensure you and your family stay healthy. Thaw meats appropriately, either in the refrigerator, or by putting them in a container with a constant trickle of cool water. Make sure to keep raw and cooked foods separate, and regularly clean you cooking surfaces. Keep kids and pets away from hot surfaces – and now is the time to have an ABC rated fire extinguisher handy. Remember, if you have a grease fire, do NOT add water; instead, use anything which will smother the fire, such as flour, salt, a lid, sheet pan, or dish towels.
Burns, cuts, and falls are some of the most common injuries during the latter part of the year. When it comes to treating common holiday injuries, Dr. Allison offers these tips. “If you get burned, the first thing to do is flush it with cool water. Small burns may continue to be treated with several minutes of cold water, an antibiotic cream (such as Neosporin) and covered by a bandage. If the burn is large, blistering, wet/oozing, or on a thin-skinned area (such as the face, neck, or joints), you should head to the emergency room.”
If you’re spending time in the kitchen, be careful with your knives and other sharp instruments. When it comes to cuts, Dr. Allison advises you to “immediately apply pressure to the wound and then evaluate the severity of the laceration. If it’s small, shallow and stops bleeding after a few minutes of applying pressure, rinse the area thoroughly with tap water, then put on antibiotic cream and cover it with a bandage. If the wound is deep, long, or continues to bleed, you might need stitches and should go to the ER.”
With all of the outdoor decorations needing to come down, people will be using ladders. “Falls are tricky,” notes Dr. Allison. “If you fall and hit your head, you should go to the emergency room. Head injuries should be taken very seriously, even if the fall is only from a few feet in height.” If you land on something less critical, such as a wrist, elbow, knee, etc., Allison recommends monitoring the injury. If there is slight pain and swelling, try to isolate the affected area for the day. If you have extreme pain, large swelling, or extensive bruising, you should see a physician.
And with increased holiday stress, cold weather, and New Year’s resolutions, be on the lookout for chest pains. If you’re exercising or working outside, the cold weather can constrict blood vessels and if you are already at risk for heart issues, there could be trouble. Now’s the time to know about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. “If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to call 9-1-1: severe chest pains, shortness of breath, radiating pain in the neck, jaw, and or back, nausea, and profuse sweating,” explains Dr. Allison. Many times, heart attack patients do not experience all of these symptoms, just one or two, so take them seriously.
Finally, there are some things we can all do to help ensure we make it through the rest of winter in a healthy manner. Eating well is important all throughout the year, but even more so during the holidays. It’s OK to enjoy snacks, sweets and adult beverages, just enjoy them in moderation. Remember to drink lots of water and take your multivitamin; if you don’t do so regularly, now’s the time to start. Do your best to keep your stress levels low by taking a few minutes to relax in a quiet environment. And most importantly, remember to get enough sleep. “Adequate sleep is one of the best things we can do for our overall health, regardless of the time of year,” shared Dr. Allison. “Many health problems are exacerbated by poor sleep habits,” he continued.
So, there you have it: a perfect prescription for your holiday ills.