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Avoid common injuries for a healthy holiday

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    There are an estimated 250 injuries a day during the holiday season, but many of these injuries are preventable. For example, never leave the stove or oven unattended when cooking. The same goes for candles.

Blame the busyness of the season and the demands people place on themselves for the uptick in accidents this time of year.

The most common culprits for emergency room visits include falls, lacerations, burns and back strains. There are an estimated 250 injuries a day during the holiday season, but many of these injuries are preventable.

For example, in Hawaii, fall-related hospitalizations among older adults are 188 percent higher annually than hospitalizations due to motor vehicle occupant injuries for all ages combined.

That averages to 1,990 hospitalizations and more than 5,700 emergency department visits to Hawaii medical centers each year due to falls alone.

However, there are four ways the intervene that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified as most likely to reduce falls. They include:

>> Regular medication checks

>> Regular vision checks

>> Appropriate physical activity

>> Home safety

This is especially important to remember during the holidays, when you may be under more stress than usual.

Ask houseguests to help keep your home tidy by putting things away after they are finished using them and to clean up any spills right away.

Make sure to have your prescriptions filled before going on any trips.

Note if your pharmacy or neighborhood drug store has different operating hours due to the holidays, and plan ahead.

If you become tired, dizzy or experience weakness, take time to rest. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, and try to stick to your regular meal schedule when possible.

Here are more tips for a happy, healthy holiday season:

>> Follow all safety and care instructions when installing electrical decor. This doesn’t just include large outdoor displays — those tiny twinklers on your tree count, too.

>> Never leave the stove or oven unattended when cooking. The same goes for candles.

>> Toss holiday lights with visible damage, like broken sockets or bare wires. Replace them with LED lights, which don’t get warm.

>> Don’t add extra clutter to your home. Remove boxes, electrical cords and other obstacles from walkways and high-traffic areas.

>> Know your own strength and don’t lift heavy objects on your own. Ask for assistance — no giant inflatable Rudolph is worth the risk of injury.

>> Avoid using sharp objects when opening gifts. Remember, safety first!

That being said, accidents do happen.

If you do get hurt and it isn’t a life-threatening injury, diagnostic testing is available at urgent care clinics. At these clinics, medical professionals can test for strep and flu, and perform blood work, X-rays and EKGs. Clinics can provide many treatment aids such as crutches, splints and sutures — a lot of the same stuff they have in an emergency department.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!

Dr. David Della Lana joined Wilcox Medical Center and Kaua‘i Medical Clinic in 2015. He is board certified in family medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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