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Ten tips for a safe Christmas season

Vancouver, BC – During the holidays, just about everything becomes busier with the hustle and bustle of people—including local emergency departments.
Emergency services at our hospitals are available 24 hours a day; however, at times they may be very busy. Service is not delivered on a first-come first-served basis; instead, a triage system is used to ensure patients requiring the most urgent care are attended to first. Those with non-emergencies can experience long waits and would do well to consider options other than the ER.  

See the Holiday hours for Vancouver, Richmond and Coastal Community Health Centres.
10 Safety Tips of Christmas
Here are VCH’s “10 Safety Tips of Christmas” to keep you and your family healthy and out of the hospital:
  1. Ensure your prescriptions will last through to the New Year. If not, visit your doctor and get refills before many medical offices close for the holidays.
  2. Find out where your closest walk-in clinic is and its holiday hours in case your doctor is away.
  3. Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 (7-1-1 for hearing impaired) for confidential health information and non-emergency services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. HealthLink provides access to nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and other health services representatives who can provide trusted health advice and information. You can also access the service online at
  4. If you experience life-threatening injuries or illnesses such as trauma, uncontrolled bleeding, heart attack or stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you need to visit the emergency department, you can check to find an ED nearest you with the shortest wait.
  5. Know the difference between flu, the common cold and norovirus, and what you should do in each case. Get your flu shot, wash your hands often and cough/sneeze into your elbow to avoid sharing germs.
  6. Double check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in full working order.
  7. Don’t drink and drive. The consequences can be serious and fatal, so grab a cab home or arrange for a designated driver before you head out.
  8. Take a few simple steps to prevent falls this winter—slow down, wear shoes with traction and give a helping hand to anyone who needs help navigating a slippery sidewalk or parking lot.
  9. If you’re hosting a party, ensure the food you serve to your guests has been properly prepared, cooked and stored to avoid food poisoning.
  10. Keep an eye out for elderly neighbours and family, ensuring their home is warm and that they have adequate food and medications over the holiday season. Be sure to check in on them regularly.
 VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.


Viola Kaminski
Public Affairs Officer                                               
Vancouver Coastal Health
Phone: 604-708-5338
Cell: 604-312-1148
SOURCE: Ten tips for a safe Christmas season ( )
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