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How to Avoid a Spine Injury when Taking Down Holiday Decorations

The holiday season has come to a close, and many residents in the Clear Lake, Texas, area are ready to begin the task of taking down their holiday decorations. As you begin taking the lights and decorations down, be sure to keep your spine in mind. At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, we understand the importance of avoiding a spine injury, so we’ve laid out some tips to help you keep your spine safe when taking down your holiday decorations.

Removing decorations can be physically enervating and dangerous if not done with caution in mind. According to data from CPSC, 2012 alone saw 15,000 injuries as a result of holiday decorations all over the country [1]. That is roughly about 250 injuries a day. Here’s how you can ensure your spine’s safety:

 

  1. Keep Ladder Safety in Mind

According to a study published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, falls from ladders account for 9% of all fall-induced spinal cord injuries. Also, vertebral injuries are more often found to be associated with falls from ladders and buildings [2].

When removing decorations that require a ladder to reach, make sure you have someone around to help keep your stability, especially if you’re outdoors. Something else to mention, always use a ladder to stand for prolonged periods of time, not a chair or desk. Avoid using damaged or worn out ladders.

Furthermore, it’s better to reposition the ladder if something’s out of reach, instead of over-extending the arms and reaching for it. This prevents falls and sprains resulting from hyperextension of the back.

 

  1. Use Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting heavy boxes becomes a routine when putting away holiday decorations, but an improper lifting technique can easily result in a spinal injury [3]. Remember two rules, first lift boxes one at a time, taking care to not “bite off more than you can chew.” Essentially, you should keep a check on the weight of boxes and avoid burdening your body with excessive weight.

Secondly, instead of exerting weight on the spine by bending to lift boxes, flex your knees and hips into a squat position to prevent an injury. Additionally, avoid leaning forward or backward when carrying a heavy load.

It’s always advisable to have the weight as close to the body as possible, to keep it stable. Yet another way of protecting your spine is to tighten the stomach muscles, which ensures the spine is in a safe lifting position.

 

  1. Be Vigilant When Removing Electrical Decorations

When removing holiday decorations, make sure you’re well aware of how to handle electrical components because not only can they lead to electrocution, but loose cords can also cause falls that lead to severe spine injuries. Slipping, tripping, and stumbling are the most common causes of fall-induced spinal injuries [2]. Always check for loose wires that could lead to a potentially dangerous fall.

Extension cords should be used with great caution and should be taped to the floor with duct tape or concealed with a cord cover to avoid tripping accidents. Remember to unplug them when not in use and fix them against the wall where they’re clearly visible while you’re working on removing any additional decorations.

 

Spinal injuries shouldn’t be under-estimated. Whether it’s a minor fall or a trip that results in severe back pain, it’s essential to get it investigated by a physician. At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, our doctors are here to provide excellent, effective spinal care for residents in the Clear Lake, Texas area. Give us a call at (281) 557-5620.

 

[1] https://www.cpsc.gov/content/%E2%80%9Cdeck-the-halls%E2%80%9D-safely-cpsc-estimates-more-than-15000-holiday-decorating-injuries-during

 

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4725788/

 

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954586/

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