The festive season can be the busiest time of year in the emergency department, with 86 patients presenting to Manly on Christmas day 2016.
This amounted to lots of changed plans and even more concerned family members.
Director of Emergency Medicine at Manly Hospital Dr Michele Franks said there are a number of recurring risks and ailments every Christmas that could easily be avoided.
“We see a lot of overconsumption, whether it be food, alcohol or other drugs, but these are presentations that can be avoided” she said.
“A lot of people present with injuries that are caused by intoxication, like lacerations – it’s probably not a great idea to carve the turkey after a few beers or glasses of wine.
“With food, a full belly is rarely a problem, but make sure that the food is correctly handled; be careful with the heat, with seafood and poultry in particular as food poisoning is a very real risk.”
Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manage Joanne Watts said the picturesque beaches, where many residents and visitors enjoy their Christmas Day, also present a risk.
“We see a lot of water accidents, like near drowning, so swim between the flags and listen to the life guards,” she said.
“Watch children closely around water; that’s a big issue at the moment, especially if you are unwinding and having a drink or are preparing Christmas lunch or dinner.
“Also, remember to slip, slop, slap when you are in the sun and stay hydrated. We see some people present with serious sunburn and heatstroke, which isn’t the most comfortable way to enjoy the holidays.”
She also said presents can sometimes prove hazardous to both young and old.
“Things like button batteries are a potential hazard for small children, it pays to check and make sure these sorts of things are secure and not accessible before they open the present,” Nurse Watts said.
“If you’re a 40-year-old father, stay off your child’s skateboard, you might end up spending Christmas in ED with us.”
Dr Franks reiterated Manly and Mona Vale hospitals, like all NSW emergency departments would operate as normal throughout the holiday period.
“Any injury that causes concern, we are always here to help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.
Dr Franks’ top five tips to stay safe this Christmas:
1. Every year we see patients visiting the Emergency Department to get repeat prescriptions for medications to treat chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. Try to plan ahead, particularly if you are going away on holiday.
2. Food poisoning is not only uncomfortable and inconvenient but can result in hospitalisation. Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods – especially meats, don’t leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours and always wash your hands before preparing food or after handling raw food.
3. Christmas and public holidays are prime times for home DIY accidents. Ladders and power tools tend to be key players, especially after a few drinks. Be cautious while doing home DIY jobs and try to time them for before any parties or festivities commence.
4. Summer days coupled with alcohol consumption can result in heat related sickness which can be deadly for older people. It can also result in accidents for the healthy. Stay hydrated, make sure there is shade available and keep an eye on your more vulnerable family members and friends. Keep them in air conditioning if possible.
5. Road accidents have become a common theme during the holiday period but it’s not something we should accept as normal. If you are travelling, take lots of breaks and drive slowly on unfamiliar roads. And don’t drive when you’re tired. A road accident may not only ruin your Christmas, it could ruin your life