When we think of injuries that occur during the holiday season certain things come to mind such as car accidents while driving on icy roads or maybe a broken leg due to a skiing accident. What we don’t normally consider are accidents that occur around the house while doing simple daily tasks such as cleaning. Some estimates show that household injuries account for over 20 million hospital visits each year. What’s more, over 7 million people have suffered serious injuries due to household accidents. With all of the parties to prepare for and Santa’s big visit coming soon, many people will be doing more household chores than usual. We’d like to highlight a few of the injuries that could occur and some ways to prevent injuries while you tidy up your home sweet home.
How many times have you had a loved one come racing around the corner and slip and fall on a newly mopped tile floor? We’ve had many a crying child in our house due to bumps and bruises sustained during slips and falls. It’s a good idea to block doorways to rooms whose floors are wet and give loved ones a head’s up so they think twice before dashing through the house. If you do find yourself falling to the floor, try to avoid stretching your arms out to catch yourself as you fall. Instead, we suggest curling up in the fetal position and tucking your head in to protect it. Falling on an outstretched arm could cause serious fractures or even breakage to the bones. You could also possibly tear your rotator cuff or dislocate your elbow.
So we’ve covered falls, now let’s talk about lifting. While we realize you may be in a hurry to get that Christmas tree out of the attic…and maybe no one is home to help you at the moment…but it would be a better idea to wait for help rather than try to move a heavy, awkward box by yourself. Doing so could cause severely strained or pulled muscles in your back and neck. Likewise, stretching too far to reach something or keeping your arms overhead while holding a heavy object for too long could also cause a strain-type injury. When lifting heavy boxes or even moving furniture to get ready for your big holiday party, always use the buddy system. Never try to lift something heavy on your own. Be sure to bend at the knees NOT the waist, and lift with your legs while keeping your back straight. This will cause you to use your quadriceps to do the work rather than your smaller, more delicate lower back muscles. Keep the object you are lifting close to your body to avoid leaning out and straining your back.
Lastly, we’d like to touch on kneeling. We all know when the in-laws are coming or the boss and his wife have been invited over for dinner, we want everything to be perfect…like baseboards and cleaning all of the Legos from under the coffee table. These types of chores cause us to spend a lot of time in a kneeling position which could be very hard on our knees. If you find yourself doing a chore that requires you to kneel for an extended period of time, consider kneeling on a pillow or a soft blanket or towel. This will cushion the knees and lessen the pressure put on them.
The holidays can be such a fun time of year; time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for all we have been blessed with over the past year. Take a few extra moments during your cleaning and preparations this year to become more aware of your surroundings and body positioning. This will greatly decrease your chances of incurring an injury and allow you to enjoy a happy, pain-free holiday!