During the holidays, there never seems to be enough time to get all your shopping, decorating, entertaining and celebrating done. All of that rushing around, especially once the snow and ice arrive, can lead to distraction … which can lead to serious injury.

Illinois Bone & Joint Institute’s Dr. Leon Benson was featured in a recent Daily Herald article about preventing injuries during the holidays. Dr. Benson is an orthopaedic hand surgeon in IBJI’s Glenview office. Read his smart advice on how to enjoy your holidays from Thanksgiving through the winter and avoid injuries during this busy time of year below:

Holiday prep: A second of carelessness can lead to a lifetime of regret

By Dr. Leon Benson
Special to the Daily Herald

Spending time in the kitchen this Thanksgiving?

Putting up holiday lights? Clearing the front walk?

It’s that time of the year when people do a lot of reckless things to save time. As a hand surgeon, I have countless stories of patients with broken wrists and hand lacerations caused by one second of carelessness.

Across the nation, there are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The most commonly seen holiday injuries reported to emergency rooms are falls, lacerations and back strains.

Remember that you don’t need to be in a sword fight to get seriously injured. Most injuries stem from dangers hiding in plain sight.

When people have a lot of items to check off their lists, they tend to get stressed and hurriedly tackle tasks.

These safety tips and reminders will help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season:

Ice caution

Slipping on ice often results in broken wrists because people tend to use their hands to break the fall.

Remember to wear shoes or boots with extra traction on them. “Black ice” conditions develop quickly and that first step outside can wreak havoc for you if you’re not prepared.

Use a stepladder

When a light bulb is loose, people grab the nearest chair and put it on the coffee table — a recipe for disaster.

I had a patient who put a stepstool on the ledge of the bathtub to kill a spider on the ceiling. The patient ended up with two broken wrists and dislocated an elbow.

Take the extra time to get a stepladder from the basement.

In the kitchen

The kitchen is the place we all should be most mindful because we spend much of our time cutting and slicing specialty dishes, plus it’s crowded and chaotic.

I treat countless cut nerves and tendons from people hurriedly pitting an avocado, slicing bagels or trying to separate frozen hamburger patties.

Remember to use a knife just sharp enough to get the job done, always cut away from yourself and use a tool when possible. As for those hamburger patties? Put them in the microwave for 30 seconds.


Finally, listen to your inner voice if it’s warning you to think twice about how you’re handling a situation, such as changing a light bulb or cutting a turkey.

Even if dinner winds up late to the table, your guests will be happy the day didn’t end with a trip to the emergency room.