West Valley Medical Center December 10, 2013

Dr. Matthew Judd, ER Physician, offers tips on how to avoid the ER this holiday season.

As an emergency physician, I have a front row seat to the misfortunes experienced by our community. Many of the accidents I see occur despite the best attempts at prevention.

A few of those injuries and illnesses are seasonal and the holiday season is no exception. With that in mind, here are a few words of holiday safety advice based on my experiences in the emergency room:

  1. Don’t unclog your snow blower with anything important. Your fingers are important.
  2. Don’t eat your big holiday meal leftovers after two days. Refrigerators are great, but a leftover turkey dinner can be more of a hazard to your body than a snow blower.
  3. Don’t tackle big shoveling jobs in one episode. Shoveling snow is a marathon, not a sprint. Better to ignore a few of those flakes than end up with back pain, or worse.
  4. If your neighbor was shoveling and is now lying in the snow, they’re probably not making snow angels.
  5. Don’t climb onto your roof. That tangle of lights, ladder, snow-covered roof and hard, icy ground are conspiring against you.
  6. Don’t behave as though you have special winter driving skills. The icy freeway has no respect for your four-wheel drive and the laws of physics apply despite your traction control.
  7. Don’t forget to buy a carbon monoxide monitor. Perhaps that daily headache is not caused by holiday stress.
  8. Don’t ski or snowboard without a helmet. Paramedics are wonderful people, but an ambulance or helicopter ride down the mountain is far less enjoyable than with friends and even more nauseating with a concussion.

It is my hope that your holidays will be happy and accident-free. However, if you need us, my colleagues and I will be available 24/7 in the emergency department.

You can reach West Valley Medical Center at 459-4641.