The summer holidays are often the busiest period of the year for Emergency Departments, with 218 presentations recorded on Christmas Day in 2016.
This amounted to countless changed plans and even more worried family members.
RNSH ED director Dr Robert Day said some of these cases were preventable.
“Christmas is a great time of year to spend with family and friends, but I’m sure everyone would rather it be around the dinner table than in emergency,” he said.
“People have a tendency to overindulge in alcohol around this period, which can lead to serious incidents or make simple tasks like chopping the veggies for Christmas lunch a lot more hazardous.”
ED nurse manager Bryan McKee-Hata said the festive period was fraught with danger and encouraged people not to put themselves in other risky situations.
“We see everything from people falling off ladders trying to put up decorations to serious burns while cooking on the barbeque, even the occasional dad trying to show the kids how to use their new skateboard,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these sorts of incidents tend to result in broken bones, burns or sometimes more serious injuries which can be avoided.”
Dr Day also asked parents to keep a close eye on their kids, with children accounting for a large proportion of presentations
“If you are planning on spending time by the pool or at the beach, keep an eye on the kids around the water,” he said.
“Also, new presents, as exciting as they are, should be checked for small parts and button batteries, which are a choking hazard. If Santa is bringing a new bike or scooter, definitely make sure there’s a matching helmet under the tree.”
Mr McKee-Hata said no matter the situation, RNSH’s ED staff would be there to help.
“If you do need to come in, there will be an excellent team of doctors and nurses here to help you and your loved ones,” he said.
All NSW hospital emergency departments will operate as normal throughout the holiday period.
All are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year round for emergencies.
Dr Day’s 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.