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Essential health information from local experts

Holiday Survival Guide

Video with Dr. Carolyn Bayindiryan & Written by SMH's Johnna Hommell & Jen Storch


Who doesn’t love all the twinkle and sparkle that the holiday season brings?! (Well ... the Grinch, of course ... but who else?!) Like most, we enjoy watching the Suncoast transform into a lighted holiday wonderland each December. But we also know that all those wonderful decorations mean we’ll be seeing too many decorating-related injuries at Sarasota Memorial’s Urgent Care Centers.

If you’re planning to add a little twinkle to your home or office this holiday, follow these safety tips, so you can spend the season being merry and bright — not recovering from an avoidable injury.

Don’t drink and decorate: Ladders + alcohol are a bad combination. Save the spirits for after decorating.

Ladder 101: Almost half of holiday-related injuries are from falling, and about half of those involve ladders. If you have an elderly neighbor, offer to help with their decorating. When using a ladder, have someone hold it steady for you and be sure the ladder is in proper working condition. Choose the right ladder based on height and weight; lock the steps before use, and always place the ladder on solid ground. Always use the 4-to-1 rule: For every 4 feet of height you have to climb on the ladder, move the ladder’s base 1 foot away from the wall. Never use a ladder by yourself; ask someone to be around in case something does go wrong and you need to call for help. 

Outdoor decorating: Protect your eyes and skin from plant thorns, poison ivy, insect bites and other irritants by wearing safety googles and appropriate clothing. Long sleeve shirts and long pants are a good way to help prevent exposure to dangerous foliage. 

Toxic décor: Poinsettia plants, those festive red plants that are synonymous with Christmas, are toxic. Exposure can cause itchy rash, eye irritation, stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhea, or other allergic reaction, especially among people who have latex allergies. Keep them out of kids’ and pets’ reach, or avoid them altogether if you have young children or animals.

Tree-trimmers beware: Decorating the Christmas tree comes with safety issues as well. Holiday decorations can be a danger to small children and pets. Many injuries are caused by fragile, breakable ornaments or decorations that children and pets mistake for food. It is best to avoid these items, if you have small children or pets. Ensure decorations with small parts or batteries — especially button batteries — are kept out of reach of children. 

Stay Healthy through the Holidays

  • Spread holiday cheer this season, not cold and flu germs. Get the flu shot. Wash your hands often, and stay home when you’re sick. Manage stress, get proper sleep, eat healthy and be active.
  • Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees and curtains. Never leave lit fireplaces, stoves or candles unattended. 
  • Watch the kids. Keep out of kids' reach potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks (like alcohol left in glasses) and choking hazards like coins, hard candy, button batteries, ornaments that look like food, toxic holly berries and other small objects.

We wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season! 

And remember, if you do get sick or injured during the holidays, our six Urgent Care Centers are open 8am-8pm every day, except Christmas. And now, you can feel better even faster: Check in online or through the SMH Urgent Care app’s Save My Spot feature to save time and your spot in line.

Johnna Hommell, LPNJohnna Hommell, LPN, supervises daily operations at Sarasota Memorial’s six urgent care centers and carries a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. She has been with Sarasota Memorial for nearly three decades.

Jen Storch, Director Ambulatory ServicesAs director of Ambulatory Services, Jen Storch oversees the daily operations of Sarasota Memorial’s six urgent care centers, outpatient care centers and the Ringling College Student Health Care Center. Jen received a Bachelor of Science in Management and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Florida.

Posted: Dec 4, 2018,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Key

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