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Feasts, fun, sparkling lights, gifts – who doesn’t love the holiday season? Unfortunately, the holidays can be hazardous to your health. Harmful “skill bluster” happens when people attempt tasks they don’t do very often or that are unfamiliar. For example, if you rarely use a hammer and nails or carve a turkey with an electric knife but somehow think you’re an expert carpenter or bird-cutter, your skill bluster might land you in urgent care or worse. Rushing or not paying attention can also cause accidents. Take a moment and focus on completing the task at hand, no matter how freaked out you feel about getting everything done.

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Here are a few tips to stay safe this season:

Cooking; Even if you are a pie master, attempting to do too many things at once might result in a burn. Slow down, make sure you don’t have too many people in the kitchen and keep lots of potholders handy – your sleeve doesn’t count.

Ladders: More than 5,800 people visit the ER from decoration-related falls. 43 percent of these are caused by ladders. Practice basic ladder safety by making sure your ladder is on a firm, level, clutter-free surface. Maintain three points of contact (hands or feet), stay near the middle of the ladder and don’t overreach.

Heavy objects: Lifting weighty presents, furniture, boxes of china – holidays can be bad for your back. Don’t be a holiday hero. Ask for help if you need it.

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Extension cords: All you need is a little more rope to get those lights on – no big deal, right? Not so fast. Each year, 4,000 people end up in the ER because of injuries caused by extension cords – half of which are caused by tripping over them. Extension cords also start about 3,000 house fires. Make sure your extension cord is in good condition, don’t nail or staple it and keep it out of high-traffic areas.

Candles: There are 11,600 candle-related fires each holiday season, with 156 deaths. Do not leave a room with a burning candle, keep flammable materials away from them and remember that children, animals and fire do not mix.

If holiday hazards get to you, LifeBridge Health has more than 2900 physicians and ExpressCare locations throughout Maryland.

Call 410-601-WELL to find a LifeBridge Health physician near you.

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