Ochsner Health System Offers Tips for Avoiding Holiday Trips to the Emergency Room

NEW ORLEANS – Each year, emergency rooms across the country see a significant up-tick in visits during the holiday season. As we enter the heart of the holidays and prepare to decorate, it is important to remember how to stay safe and accident free.

Whether you are decorating your tree and the inside of your home or tackling the outside with lights and ornaments, keep in mind that safety comes first so that you don’t end up with a visit to the emergency room. Some of the most common risks can include falls, cuts, burns, broken bones and the potential for choking hazards if there are children around. Electrical fire hazards can be especially dangerous and extra precautions should always be taken to ensure all wiring is safe to use.

Dr. Brian Seymour with St. Charles Parish Hospital has the following tips to help you stay injury-free and healthy as you turn your home into a winter wonderland:


For many people, the holidays mean bringing boxes or ornaments and decoration out from storage, not to mention the massive trees that we carry into our living rooms. It is important that we employ proper lifting techniques while setting up our holiday tree or placing heavy decorations on the gutter or roof.

When lifting heavy objects, the following tips should be kept in mind:

  • Keep a wide base of support.
  • Bend at the hips and knees ONLY, keeping your back straight, chest out and shoulders back.
  • Slowly lift with your hips and knees without twisting or jerking
  • Set down your tree or boxes gently, bending at only the knees and hips.

Ladder Safety

When using a ladder to put the finishing touches atop your tree, and especially as you try to hang decorations on higher places outside such as in trees or roof line, it is important to remember the following ladder safety tips:

  • Inspect the ladder for damage, reading all labels and markings.
  • Do not use the top rung of the ladder.
  • Do not place the ladder on boxes, chairs or any items other than the floor.


You should always wear gloves when decorating with light bulbs or ornaments that are breakable. Both can cause either minor or deep cuts that could require stitches. It is also advisable to wear closed-toe shoes to avoid stepping on objects.

Fire and Burn Prevention

Though not common, holiday tree fires can cause serious injury, property damage and even death. The following precautions should be taken to avoid a potential tragedy due to an improperly maintained holiday tree:

  • Choose a fresh tree that isn’t dried out.
  • Use a tree stand with a wide base to avoid your tree falling over.
  • Be sure that any lights put on the tree are low energy and low heat while also ensuring that there are no frayed or damaged cords.
  • Do not overload power strips or electrical circuits.
  • If you choose and artificial tree, make sure it is marked as being flame resistant.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

For patient appointments at St. Charles Parish Hospital or any Ochsner Health System location, call 866-624-7637 or visit www.ochsner.org. Online appointments can be made through the MyOchsner patient portal or by clicking Online Appointments.


Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 60 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 17,000 employees and over 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 1,000 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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