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Woodruff Health Sciences Center

December 18, 2000 



'Tis the season for memories and merriment. Unfortunately, though, 'tis also the season for injuries and mishaps. Arthur Kellermann, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, and director, the Emory Center for Injury Control, offers the following tips on how to make this holiday season a happy one.

  1. Fasten your seatbelt every time you get in a car. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States. Fastening your seatbelt is the single most important thing you can do to survive a crash or escape serious injury.

  2. Place your children in a properly secured child safety seat every time you drive. Proper use of restraints is just as important for kids as it is for adults.

  3. Don't drink and drive. If you are planning to attend a holiday party, make sure that your car has a "designated driver" who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages.

  4. If you give your child a bicycle, skates or a scooter as a holiday gift, make sure you give them the proper safety gear as well. A properly worn bicycle helmet reduces the chances of a serious head injury in a crash by as much as 85 percent. Wrist guards significantly reduce the chance of a broken wrist while skating. Modern protective gear works, and it looks cool!

  5. Make sure your smoke detector is in working order and has a fresh battery. A properly functioning smoke detector reduces the risk of death in a house fire by 50 percent.

  6. Check your holiday lights to make sure that the power cords are not frayed or damaged, and don't overload the outlet or use too many extension cords! Misused holiday lights are a common cause of house fires.

  7. Do not to buy toys with small parts for toddlers. They can choke on them.

  8. Treat "BB" and pellet guns like a real firearm. If you buy one, keep it out of the reach of children, and only allow them to use it under the supervision of a responsible adult. Modern air rifles are not "toys." Some of them can shoot a pellet with the same muzzle velocity of a bullet!

  9. Keep gifts, loose wrapping paper, and extension cords out of the way, especially at night. They can cause someone to trip and fall. Falls are the leading cause of hip fractures and other injuries among senior citizens. They can cause permanent disability or death.

  10. Don't buy a "baby walker" for your baby, or any one else's baby. Baby walkers not only delay a baby's normal motor development - they are dangerous as well. Kids in baby walkers can zoom down steps, breaking bones or sustaining a serious head injury in the process.

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