Dec 14
Stay safe this festive season
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has urged local residents to be prepared and stay safe and healthy over the festive season to avoid unnecessary visits to hospital. 

Director of Emergency Medicine at Orange Health Service, Dr Shamus Shepherd, has a clear message – stay safe to help keep emergency departments for emergencies; and if you do need to come to hospital, treat staff with respect. 

“This is a time of year when we all like to relax and let our hair down a bit, but we want everyone to celebrate safety.

“Spending time in an ED or hospital is no-one’s idea of fun, so avoid it if you can.

“If you are experiencing a genuine emergency then you should go to your ED. It’s important to remember that people are seen in relation to how urgently they need treatment, not when they arrive, or how stressed they are.

“We understand the emergency department can be a frustrating and frightening place and will do our best to communicate with all our patients and address their concerns. I encourage you to approach staff with any questions or worries you may have but would remind everyone that we don’t tolerate violence or bad behaviour in our hospitals.

“When people become aggressive or threatening, it affects the efficiency and quality of the care our staff are able to provide to all our patients.

“Our staff are here to look after you and provide you with the best possible care, but will not be subject to abusive or threatening behaviour, which may trigger removal from the hospital grounds and notification of police”. 

Dr Shepherd said that people could prepare for the Christmas break with simple measures such as:
  • If you take medication, make sure you’ve had your script filled so you don’t run out – especially if you’re travelling
  • Stock up on first-aid and over-the-counter medicines you might need
  • Plan get-togethers with plenty of shade and non-alcoholic drinks available
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you’re planning to drive or do other activities that require your attention such as swimming or riding.

Dr Shepherd also encouraged people to use the HealthDirect symptom checker or 1800 number to potentially avoid unnecessary trips to hospital.

“These services can help you decide the best place to seek help for your health concern.” 

Find the symptom checker at Healthdirect website / or call the 24/7 HealthDirect line on 1800 022 222.

Here’s a list of common – and avoidable – reasons people end up in hospital. 

Adults
  • Trauma – Falls from dirt bike riding and outdoor activities, accidents and injuries in swimming pools. Also broken bones after falling off children’s Christmas presents such as skateboards, scooters and mini segways.
  • Alcohol related issues and intoxication – Watch your intake and drink plenty of water.
  • Heart attacks – Particularly in the elderly and those with chronic conditions after a big lunch.
  • Bites – From insects, spiders and snakes.
  • Mental health – Christmas can be stressful and can be a trigger for depression and an increased risk in self harm.
  • Slips and falls – Be careful when placing decorations in high places.
  • Food poisoning - Salmonella and Campylobacter can be an issue if cool storage temperatures are not maintained. Keep raw and cooked foods separate and wash hands before and after handling food.

Children
  • Choking – Small/easily broken parts on toys stuffed in mouth or nose. Be careful of beads and detachable eyes or noses on stuffed toys, also be mindful of erasers, broken crayons and other small items.
  • Strangulation – From strings/cords on toys. Try to keep them under 22cm long.
  • Ear and eye injuries – Loud toys and high-pressure water guns shot too close to eyes and ears and small items in eyes and ears. Liquid leaking from glow sticks getting in the eyes.
  • Poisoning – From batteries and liquids in toys and poorly maintained food. 
  • Burns – Pay attention while you are cooking and be aware when children are around. Don’t leave children unattended near hot stoves, grills, barbecues and cooking appliances
  • Sunburn – Use sunscreen, a hat and protective clothing and stay in the shade during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Animal bites – Be aware of children playing with pets, as even usually well-behaved pets may fear bite in situations they find overwhelming.