Inside Scope on Medical Truths: Holiday Plans Gone Wrong


Donya Forst

Donya Forst, Print Editor

I’ve learned so much this semester, and I hope you all have, too. Because finals can be stressful, I figured I’d go out on a light note. Take a break from studying history or medical terminology and laugh a little. Hopefully, these facts put you in the Christmas spirit and make you a little cautious, too. I present the most common injuries seen in emergency rooms during the holiday season and how to prevent them.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,  about 250 people are injured each day between the months of November and January. ER cases related to holiday decorating have risen significantly in the past several years — from 12,000 cases in 2009 to 15,000 in 2012. Some people like to blame the injuries on pure stupidity, while others say that the stress can be a major factor. While Christmas is the time when most families come together in happiness and joy, they also fight at the dinner table with “I’m better at this then you are” arguments, which lead to unhealthy and injury prone-competitions.

Although family altercations can provide for some holiday entertainment, they don’t often result in emergency room visits. The leading causes of emergency room visits during the Christmas season belong to ladder accidents, Christmas tree fires, decorating casualties and my personal favorite: gift opening injuries. Really.

There is a condition called wrap rage. Yes, wrap rage. Wrap rage, also called package rage, is the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-open packaging. The relative who uses too much tape on her presents? Yeah, she’s the one who causes this. Wrap rage leads to thousands of injuries per year, ranging from small incidences such as paper cuts to injuries that require significant medical attention such as knife and razor blade wounds as well as scissor-related injuries. Who would’ve thought such a thing existed?

Some more fun facts from the CPSC include this: Approximately 1,300 people are treated each year in emergency rooms for injuries related to holiday lights. Another 6,200 are treated for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees. Holiday lights cause about 510 fires each year, and Christmas trees are involved in about 400 fires.

My best advice is to not climb a ladder alone. Make sure there are other people around you. Also, don’t let your parents go up on the ladder without supervision. Stay with them for the few minutes it takes to hang decorations. Make sure you turn off your Christmas tree lights before you leave the house and before you go to bed at night. Don’t put yourself in a position where there could possibly be a fire hazard. Christmas is supposed to be a time of happiness, so don’t develop wrap rage. Open your presents eagerly but not so eagerly that you injure yourself.

I hope these tips find you well and help you unwind a little during finals. Have a happy holiday. I look forward to giving you more medical tales and tidbits next semester. Enjoy!