Have a Happy, Head-Injury Free, Holiday Season1

This holiday season experts warn of a somewhat unexpected threat that can disrupt holiday cheer at any time. Never underestimate the risk of head injury related to hanging, and then taking down, holiday decorations.

“Given that ladders contribute to nearly 20,000 head injuries a year, it is not surprising that there would be this documented head injury trend in December and January when people are using ladders to decorate their homes,” said Gail L. Rosseau, MD, from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).

According to AANS, in 2009 an estimated 1.5 million people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for head injuries related to ordinary household items.

[audio:http://hospitalstay.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/07-Head-On.mp3|titles=Head On]An additional 100,000 people were treated for head injuries in connection with porches, fences, yards, gardens, garages, and workshops. And never underestimate the dangers of ice, especially since falls from frozen walkways are common.

According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, in 2009 the following contributed to the highest number of head injuries:

  1. Floors or Flooring Materials – 379,049
  2. Stairs or Steps – 166,960
  3. Beds or Bed Frames (other or not specified) – 147,052
  4. Tables (not classified elsewhere) – 92,425
  5. Ceilings and Walls (completed structure) – 86,170
  6. Chairs (other or not specified) – 75,593
  7. Bathtubs or Showers – 48,972
  8. Cabinets, Racks, Room Dividers and Shelves – 48,022
  9. Baby Products (all categories combined) – 43,287
  10. Doors (other or not specified) – 41,097
  11. Sofas, Couches, Davenports, Divans – 39,016
  12. Desks, Chests, Bureaus or Buffets – 35,040
  13. Rugs or Carpets (not specified) – 25,209
  14. Ladders – 19,978
  15. Toilets – 18,578

AANS also provides some injury prevention tips around the home.

  • Secure loose electrical cords and put away toys and any other items that are lying around.
  • Do not use recalled products – discard or take back to the store.
  • Keep chairs, cribs and other furniture away from windows.
  • Use safety gates and install window guards.
  • Buy bath mats and rugs with slip-resistant backing and secure them.
  • Do not walk on slippery, freshly washed floors and avoid floor waxes.
  • Install grab bars and handrails if you are frail or elderly.
  • Improve the lighting in your home; dim lighting can increase the risk of falls.
  • Install night lights in halls and bathrooms, and keep a flashlight near your bed.
  • Store products in easy-to-reach places; use stepstools/ladders only when absolutely necessary.
  • Wear proper shoes with slip-resistant soles.

And AANS provides some injury prevention tips outside the house.

  • Inspect and remove debris and ice from walkways, driveways, porches, and yards.
  • Inspect and remove debris from lawns before mowing or gardening.
  • Store outdoor equipment and tools properly.
  • Make sure that ladders are stable and secure before using them.
  • Do not use broken equipment or tools.
  • Install outdoor handrails if elderly or frail.
  • Do not let children engage in activities inappropriate for their age.
  • Supervise younger children at all times.
  • Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or ride as a passenger with anybody else who is under the influence.

Additional Source:  Medical News Today.


  1. News | Hospital Stay | Injury Prevention

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