BreakPoint Celebrates the Holidays!
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program
The holiday season is in full swing. The social calendar is
filled with parties and holiday gatherings to attend. 'Tis the season of
over-indulgence. This time of year we spend too much, we eat too much and
sometimes we also drink too much. December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving
Prevention Month (3D month). The 3D Prevention Month Coalition and its
government partner the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, focuses
attention on the impaired driving problem in December because that has
traditionally been one of the worst times of the year. Between office parties,
holiday receptions, family gatherings and New Year's Eve, the holiday season is
a deadly time of the year.
This issue of Breakpoint will offer tips on planning
safe and sober holiday parties and how to celebrate a safe Christmas. Christmas
is such a happy and wonderful season .We owe it to ourselves and our families to
keep this and every Christmas a safe and sober time.
Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock
Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program.
Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.
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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Christmas decorations can help brighten the holidays but
misusing or using damaged decorations may lead to dangerous situations-such as
injuries from shock or fires. According to the National Protection Association
nearly six hundred fires each year are caused by Christmas tree lights and
decorations, resulting in an average of 33 deaths, 117 injuries and 23 million
dollars in property damage. Refer to this checklist when beginning your holiday
- When buying a live Christmas tree, check the tree for freshness. A
dry Christmas tree can lead to a greater risk of fire. Keep the Christmas tree
holder filled with water to maintain longer tree life. Check freshness by
pulling on the needles, bend a needle in half, if it breaks before bending in
half, the tree is already quite dry.
- Keep your tree a safe distance (at least three feet) from
fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat.
- Before placing light strings inside or outdoors, check to see the
lights bear the UL Mark. These products have been safety tested for risk of
fire, shock and other hazards. Follow all of the manufacturer's instructions
prior to hanging lighted decorations.
- Before plugging in newly purchased electrical decorations or those
used during previous seasons, carefully inspect each decoration. Check for
cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace
damaged items with new decorations.
- Unplug light strings and electrical decorations before replacing
light bulbs or fuses.
- Keep light strings and electrical decorations away from the reach
- Never connect more than three stands of lights to one extension
- Turn off all lighted decorations prior to going out or to bed. Do
not leave lighted decorations unattended.
- Do not use electric lights on metallic trees. Use spotlights to
illuminate metal trees.
- Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors and
fire extinguishers in case of fire. Make sure you have a fire escape plan for
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Alcohol and Office Parties
It is becoming a tradition for employers to have an
office Christmas party. Many companies and small businesses throw a party for
their employees before the holidays. The parties range from a casual dinner to
an elegant affair. Although employers want to treat their employees to a night
out, employers are also responsible to their staff to provide a
In Illinois, 35% of all alcohol-related fatalities had a
blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 or higher. Nationwide, over 41,611 people
were killed and 3.24 million were injured in alcohol-related crashes in 1999.
When planning an event at which you will be serving
alcoholic beverages, there are certain basic but important steps that you should
take to make sure your guests enjoy themselves and get home safely. These steps
will remind your employees that you care about their safety:
- Consider having a non-alcoholic party, or, if alcohol is served, stop serving it at
least one hour before the end of the party.
- If alcohol is to be served, food should also be served to slow down the effects
of alcohol. Salty foods should be avoided, however, since they cause a
person to drink more.
- Hire caterers who have a liquor license and who are experienced in monitoring
- If a private caterer is not hired, then one or two employees should be
designated to serve the alcohol. These employees should be management level
because non-management employees may feel intimidated telling their
supervisor or even a co-worker that he or she has had too much to drink.
- The people serving alcohol must not drink. This impairs their ability to judge
other people’s sobriety.
- Before the party, choose non-drinking co-workers as designated drivers and have the
party at a location convenient to public transportation or cabs.
- Employers could reserve a block of hotel rooms if having their parties at a hotel to
provide a safe place to stay for their employees.
One myth about drinking and driving is that serving coffee
helps people become sober. It will not. Only time can reduce the effects of
alcohol on a person.
Office parties are a traditional way for employees to
socialize and relax with their co-workers during the holidays. Serving alcohol
responsibly at office parties helps make sure we are all here for the New Year.
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Sobering Facts About Impaired Pedestrians
Most people know that you should not drive impaired, but what many people may not
know is that excessive drinking can have the same deadly consequences for
pedestrians. Almost one-third of all pedestrians who die in traffic-related
crashes are intoxicated and alcohol involvement either for the driver or for the
pedestrian is reported in nearly one-half of all pedestrian fatalities.
There has been a reduction in traffic crashes involving alcohol- impaired drivers over
the past decade. Unfortunately, this same reduction has not always occurred for
alcohol-related fatal crashes involving adult pedestrians. These pedestrians
tend to have very high blood alcohol levels and to be chronic alcohol abusers.
Because there is no legal blood alcohol limit for pedestrians, many of the enforcement
tools available to combat impaired driving are not applicable to pedestrians. In
fact, it is often difficult for law enforcement agencies to intervene and take
obviously intoxicated pedestrians into safe custody (Sandoff, 1992).
- As a motorist, watch for sudden unexpected movements by pedestrians. Scan the road
widely and often. Prepare for the unexpected. Slow down!
- If you know someone who has been drinking and planning to walk home, call them a cab or
offer to drive or escort them, even if it is only a short distance.
- Remember as a pedestrian, alcohol slows your reaction time, impairs judgment and affects
your alertness and coordination. It can also effect your vision.
- Limit how much alcohol you consume, especially if you plan to walk. Do not fool yourself
about your ability to walk in traffic safely.
- Be more visible to traffic by carrying a flashlight or wearing retro-reflective clothing
at night. During the day, wearing bright colors is best. Wearing white,
especially at night is not enough.
The holidays should be a time of enjoyment with family and friends. Remember to drink responsibly for a healthy and happy holiday season.
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CPSC Urges Seasonal Furnace Inspection to Prevent CO Poisoning
As the home heating season approaches, the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to have a professional
inspection of all fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces, stoves,
fireplaces, clothes dryers and space heaters, to detect deadly carbon monoxide
These appliances burn fuel, typically gas, both natural
and liquefied petroleum, kerosene, oil, coal and wood. Under certain conditions,
these appliances can produce deadly CO. However, with proper installation and
maintenance, they are safe to use.
CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any
fuel. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include;
headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Exposure to high
levels of CO can cause death.
“CO poisoning associated with using fuel burning
appliances kills more than 200 people per year and send more than 10,000 people
to the emergency department for treatment” said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown.
CPSC recommends that the yearly professional inspection
include checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage. Leakage
through cracks or holes could cause black stains on the side of the chimney or
flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into the house. In
addition, have all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers, and other
fuel-burning appliances checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.
CPSC recommends that every home should have at least
one CO alarm that meets the most recent standards and guidelines.
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Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web
National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention
Since it’s inception, this website has provided ideas,
activities, and tips to help prevent impaired drivers from getting behind the
There are also links to other traffic-minded websites for
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Nationwide organization of people determined to stop
drunk driving and support the victims drunk driving crashes.
A versatile website for all involved with drunk driving.
The site provides statistics, program information and victims assistance. Look
up the MADD chapter in your state.
National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
An excellent article from the NFPA on winterizing your
home and holiday safety tips to prevent fires from holiday decorations.
Santa’s Holiday Safety Tips
A fun website that has something for the whole family.
There are safety tips for the holidays as well as Christmas coloring pages,
sheet music and words to your favorite Christmas carols. There are links to
other Christmas websites to add to the fun.
*It is important to note that children who have access to the Internet should get permission from their parents first. Parents should observe their children while they use the Internet to help them avoid dangerous situations while they surf.
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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention
- Impaired Driving enforcement Weekend (July 1-4).
- National Sobriety Checkpoint Week (June 25-July 5).
The information on the Loyola University Health System
(LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.
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