Seasonal Injuries

Busy shoppers on Robson Street, Vancouver in December

[Photo: Leon Wang/Shutterstock]

Holiday season is upon us, and that means shorter days and longer nights. It also means the season of holiday parties, celebration, and rushing around for those last-minute gifts or potluck items.

Carbon Monoxide

Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can strike in your home. Do you know the signs of CO poisoning? This invisible, odorless gas was the direct cause of 13 acute hospitalizations and two deaths in BC in 2016. Early symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion—common symptoms associated with the flu.1

Learn more about what to do to keep your family safe from CO poisoning.

Ladder Safety

Over 700 British Columbians are hospitalized every year due to ladder falls, and people aged 25-54 years account for nearly 1/3 (31%) of hospitalizations due to falls from ladders, stairs, steps, and scaffolding.2 WorkSafeBC, BC Hydro, and Preventable have great safety tips for when you are hanging up your holiday decorations.

  • The feet of the ladder should always be on a stable surface
  • If it’s an extension ladder, the two sections need to overlap according to the manufacturer’s instructions and all the locks must be properly engaged
  • To avoid losing your balance, a good rule of thumb is to keep your belt buckle inside the ladder’s rails
  • If you don’t tie off your ladder and stake it to the ground, you should have a “spotter” to hold the bottom of the ladder.

Learn more:

Driving Safety

According to ICBC, impaired driving is a leading cause of fatal car crashes—on average in BC, 68 lives are lost every year.3 ICBC launched its CounterAttack campaign at the end of November and is encouraging drivers to know the risks. Preventable has tips on how to have fun and stay safe.

Surprisingly, you might get into a car crash where you least expect it: in the parking lot of a mall. An average of 200 crashes occurred at mall parking lots in 2017.4 Your risk of crash increases in December, between 12 and 3 PM, and on Friday or Saturday. ICBC has tips on how to navigate holiday shopping safely.

Stay safe this holiday season:

  • Before you leave the house, stop: Will I have a drink or two at my work holiday party or potluck at a friend’s house? Ask yourself some questions: do I need to plan a safe ride home? Take public transit, have a designated driver available, or take a taxi?
  • Be mindful of driver fatigue, especially when driving long distances after a busy day on the slopes or after a heavy meal. Driver fatigue slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.
  • Leave lots of time to get to your destination so you are not rushing and remember to take weather and road conditions into account. Slow down when shopping and be on alert.
  • Follow the rules of the road, even in parking lots.



  1. The Community Against Preventable Injuries. Do you know about CO (2018)?
  2. Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), Ministry of Health, BCIRPU Injury Data Online Tool, 2016.
  3. ICBC (2018). Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend.
  4. ICBC (2018). ​Mall parking lot crashes peak in December; ICBC provides Drive Smart tips for holiday shopping season.