Avoid unnecessary holiday visits to the emergency ward

Here are a few tips to play it safe over the holiday season.

Hospital emergency departments are busy places, and during the winter months, visits to local hospitals can increase dramatically.

Fraser Health is asking residents to help by taking simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to your local emergency department during the busy holiday season.

“We know that emergencies and other serious health concerns happen every day, but some of the influx of patients during the holidays is related to people needing a prescription refill or a family physicians check-up when their doctor’s office is closed for the holidays,” said Dr. Craig Murray, medical director for Surrey Memorial Hospital’s emergency department.

Emergency department admits are triaged by level of seriousness of the symptoms. If you need to visit an emergency department, coming prepared can make your visit shorter. Keep a list of all medications that you take and known allergies with you at all times.

Other steps you can take to avoid an unnecessary trip to an emergency department:

* If you are unsure about what health services you require or where to access them, call 8-1-1. The toll-free HealthLink BC line provides 24/7 confidential health information in over 130 languages including Punjabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.

* Check your symptoms or get more information about a condition online at HealthLink BC www.healthlinkbc.ca or you can order a book format for easy reference at home.

* Take note of the weekend/holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date.

* Familiarize yourself with the locations and hours of walk-in clinics in your area. http://find.healthlinkbc.ca/

* Get your annual flu shot.

* Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading and contracting viruses and bacteria.

* Rest is best. If you feel like you’re getting the cold or flu, drink plenty of fluids and take it easy.

* To avoid food-borne illnesses, ensure your cooking utensils, containers and food preparation surfaces are cleaned and sanitized after use.

* Store food at the correct temperature and check that it is cooked properly before eating. http://befoodsafe.ca.

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