HOUSTON (December 11, 2015)

With the holiday season in full swing, families are finding joy by decorating their homes and yards. Unfortunately, several of these practices can result in injuries that make the holidays not very merry. Falls are among the most common mechanisms of injury with adults at Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and activities such as hanging lights and decorations only increase the risk.

Chris Lake, pastor at Tree of Life Lutheran Church in Conroe, Texas, was setting up Christmas lights at church only four days before their Christmas service last year. Trying to save time, he climbed up some scaffolding before it was properly assembled.

“I was in a hurry,” Lake said. “As I was climbing, I could tell the scaffolding was unstable. When it started to go down, I jumped away from it so I wouldn’t be in the collapse.”

Lake fell approximately ten to twelve feet. He over-extended his arm and shattered his elbow upon impact. He was brought to Memorial Hermann to be treated for his injuries.

“No one is invincible and you can’t do these things on your own,” Lake said. “I really couldn’t anticipate the damage because it didn’t look that high. Take precautions and don’t misuse any equipment. I was in a rush and that was my biggest mistake.”

Memorial Hermann wants to remind the community of these important holiday fall prevention tips:

  • Ask for help: Always ask for help if the job seems too difficult and when moving heavy or awkward items.
  • Ladders: Inspect ladders before use to make sure nothing is loose or broken. Set up the ladder on level ground and have someone spotting you whenever possible. If hanging decorations inside, use a ladder or a step stool instead of unstable furniture.
  • Rooftop Safety: Make sure to have a plan before you start putting any lights or decorations on your roof. This will lower the amount of time you actually have to spend up there. While you are on the roof, check that you have firm footing at all times while moving around. Only work on your roof during the day and don’t attempt to get on your roof if there is bad weather.
  • Additional Safety: Keep walkways clear of clutter and other items that may trip you up. Strands of lights can be a huge tripping hazard. Don’t ever drink while decorating.

“Make sure the ladder is in the proper work area so you aren’t reaching too far while standing on it,” said Timothy Achor, MD, UTHealth orthopedic trauma surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “Make sure the base of the ladder is clear and that you wear closed-toe shoes with the laces tied.”

Red Duke Trauma Institute would like everyone to remember these easy-to-follow tips in order to have a safe and happy holiday, and an injury-free start to the New Year.