Common Holiday Injuries and Illnesses (And How to Prepare)

Dietrich Easter

Common Holiday Injuries and Illnesses (And How to Prepare)


Does it always seem like someone in your family is getting sick around the holidays? Does it seem like you’re constantly reaching for the first aid kit? The holidays should be a joyful time, but there are some hidden dangers and common holiday injuries. 


Holiday injuries can range from minor burns and scratches to major falls and car accidents. Unfortunately, even small injuries around Christmas or New Year can be really frustrating. You’re just trying to enjoy some family time when - wham! An injury or sickness strikes! Now you’re missing out on family time and wasting time off.  


Let’s talk in more detail about these common injuries and ailments, and then we’ll talk about how to prepare. We’ll start with the injuries, then talk about the illnesses.

Why Do People Get Hurt Around the Holidays? 

You might be wondering, why are injuries common around the holidays? Well, there are a few intuitive reasons. We’ll talk about them more in later sections, but here’s what it all boils down to: people are doing things they don’t normally do. 


And, when people do things that they don’t normally do, their bodies and minds aren’t as careful about keeping them safe. This is why people fall when they’re first learning to ice skate or skateboard. 


With that said, let’s look at some common injuries. 

Several Common Holiday Injuries 

First, let’s talk about some of the most common injuries around Christmas and New Year. But keep in mind, many of these injuries become more common around all holidays, that includes Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, etc.   


Here are some common holiday injuries: 


  • Falls 

  • Choking hazards (eating and toys) 

  • Car Accidents (Motor vehicle collisions) 

  • Cuts and scratches 

  • Fires 


Let’s look at these closer.

Why Falls are Common Around Christmas 

First, let’s talk about falls. Falls happen more often around the holidays for a couple of reasons, but most of them relate to one thing: decorations. There are a few things to keep in mind here. 


Some of the most serious falls happen when people have to climb high ladders to place decorations on their roofs. Or, they might be on their roof, trying to place decorations somewhere. 


However, don’t discount the small falls. These would include falls from short step ladders when trying to decorate the inside of the home – or placing a star on the tree. For many folks, these kinds of falls can still be very serious, resulting in concussions or broken bones. 


How to stay safe from falls around the holidays: Make it a point to have someone help stabilize any high ladders. Also, be realistic with yourself about your physical and mental condition. There are professionals you can hire to decorate your home, and this may be the safest option for some (and if you can find someone reasonably priced, it’s less work!).

Why Choking Hazards are Common Around Holidays 

Another danger around the holidays: choking. There are several sources of choking that both adults and children should be aware of. 


First, there is usually a loss of extra food around the holidays. Both adults and children will be eating more than usual, and some of the food might be difficult to chew (for children or adults). Also, young kids might sneak over to the snack table and grab food when the adults aren’t looking. 


Second, toys and objects can present a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Holiday gatherings can cause a lot of sound and commotion, and true choking is almost completely silent. 


How to stay safe from choking around the holidays: The main thing is to be aware of what you and others are eating. Ensure that children are still being watched by someone, even if it’s a “safe” family gathering. 

Car Accidents are a Danger 

Car accidents and MVCs (motor vehicle collisions) are also a danger around the holidays. This danger can take several forms. 


First, the obvious one – more driving. This could be making long road trips to family gatherings or just driving a couple of minutes up the road. Regardless, more time on the road means there may be more chance of collisions. Also, keep in mind a few compounding factors. Memorial Day is the worst weekend for car accidents, as it consistently has the most accidents each year.  


Second, for those who live in snowy climates, many people are polishing their snowmobiles or four-wheelers. These vehicles can be fun during the colder months, but they present some risks. Also, keep in mind the risk of ice and snow as it relates to regular driving. 


How to stay safe from car accidents: The best way to stay safe is to drive slowly and stay aware. Also, if the conditions look bad, stay at home and drive later. 

Cuts and Minor Burns Around the Holidays 

Falls and car accidents are common, but smaller injuries are often more common as well. What’s the issue with these smaller injuries? Well, around the holidays, it’s like they are magnified – any injuries, be it a cut or a small burn, is just more annoying when you’re trying to enjoy the moment and spend time with loved ones. 


Cuts are more common, as people are spending more time in the kitchen. Burns are more common for the same reason – more time in the kitchen. But there’s another reason for burns, many people are starting fires in woodstoves and fireplaces, which creates more dangers (as we’ll talk about in the next section). 


How to stay safe from cuts and minor burns: Don’t forget those oven mitts when taking out the roast! Also, be careful when using that kitchen knife. It’s easy to become distracted. Before you know it, you’ve diced the potatoes and your finger as well! 

Fire Hazards During the Holidays 

There is a spike in house fires during the months of December and January. This is more to do with the cold weather and less to do with the holidays. However, it’s still wise to keep in mind that fires are more common this time of the year. 


Here are a few ways to stay safe from fires during the winter months: first, ensure that you’ve had your heating system checked for safety. There are a ton of different ways to heat a home, so it’s not possible to cover them all here. The main thing is to ensure the system is cleaned and working as it should, and that nothing flammable is near the heat source. 


Also, ensure that you have your smoke alarms and your carbon monoxide alarms tested and in the right places. These devices are life-saving, so don’t neglect them! 

Common Illnesses During the Holidays (Christmas and New Year) 

Now, let’s talk about a few common illnesses around the holidays. Most of these are related to two things. First, the colder weather, and second, the increased exposure to people. 


Here are a few common sicknesses around the holidays:


  • Influenza (Flu). The common flu begins to rise in prevalence around the holidays. Usually, flu season is from around October to early spring.  

  • RSV. This virus has been impacting both children and adults and can be dangerous in some cases.

  • Food poisoning. When you’re eating a bunch of new foods from some unknown origins, there is an increased likelihood of becoming sick. 


Now, let’s talk about how you can stay safe from common sicknesses

How to Avoid Holiday Sickness 

Let’s go over a few ways to avoid sickness around the holidays. With these techniques, you’ll be in the best position to avoid illness. However, sometimes sickness happens, and the best thing you can do is have some chicken noodle soup and warm blankets ready so you can make a swift recovery. 


Tips to avoid illness around the holidays: 


  • Keep your immune system strong. Keep yourself and your family in the best health possible. Eat right, take those vitamins, and do your best to maintain overall health. This will keep your immune system strong and help you avoid and fight illness. 

  • Avoid sick people. If you know someone is or has been sick, it’s best to avoid them. Yes, it can be easy to overlook this, but if your family catches the ailment, it could be weeks and weeks before you all recover. 

  • Wash hands. Keeping hands washed is one of the best ways to avoid illness during the holiday season. Our hands introduce many germs, so keeping them clean should be a priority. 


Those are a few ideas to stay safe and stay healthy. Now for our final words. 

Final Thoughts: How to Stay Safe During a Holiday Week 

Injuries and illness can increase around the holidays. Everything from car accidents to burns to falls can become more prevalent. Also, the risk of viruses can be a problem. 


Use common sense when driving and putting up Christmas decorations. Also, do your best to maintain general health and avoid being around people who are sick. 


Keep that first aid kit stocked! Have a small boo-boo kit around for the small stuff, and keep something like the Civilian Medical Trauma Kit around for the bigger injuries!