Don’t jingle all the way to the ER!

By Dr. Olivier Gherardi

Regional Medical Director, CareWell Urgent Care

Busy, busy, busy.  We are all so busy right now.  Busy with work (when is that spreadsheet due again?), busy planning the perfect holiday while still grocery shopping for all the other daily meals to be provided until then, busy with holiday shopping (apparently the PS4 is made of metal no longer found on Earth), busy decorating the house and outdoing the neighbors’ choreographed light-and-sound show, busy finishing that one last blog before the new year.  And with haste comes waste.  And by waste, I mean dips, dives, spills and honest-to-goodness wipe-outs.

The holiday season starts early for Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care centers – almost as early as the local superstores stocking their shelves with the first ornaments and light strings.  It is estimated that holiday decorating is responsible for about 250 ER visits a day, starting in early November. Add to that a vast amount of falls and crashes on slick roads and walkways as the weather in our corner of the States turns from ugly to frightful to nightmarish.

Most of these injuries consist of lacerations and scrapes (by the way, is your Tetanus up to date? Just wondering…), followed by dreaded back strains.  Fortunately, the vast majority of these conditions are fairly minor, although their impact from the ensuing temporary disability can be bothersome for weeks afterwards.  But some are unfortunately more severe or involved – think burns, sprains and fractures.

Certainly, prevention is key.  Use common sense when decorating up high.  Be super careful and smart when using a ladder.  Turn the power off before plugging things in.  Check the light strings before you are up on the roof.  Wear weather appropriate shoes with good anti-slip soles for traction.  Wait until after decorating before dipping into the spiked eggnog.  Have a helping hand around and work as a team.

And if disaster still prevails, know where to go for care.  A local Urgent Care center, such as CareWell is a sure bet to treat whatever non-life threatening injury in a quick, comfortable and personal manner, and it’s usually a lot more cost effective than a visit to the ER.  They can attend to your wound, X-ray an injured area, splint, strap bandage, update that Tetanus and send you on your way to recovery with clear instructions.  They might even have someone who knows how to keep all those holiday light strings working.  Might.