Holiday Warning: Beware of wrap rage

by admin December 21, 2010

Plastic packaging causes puncture wounds and aggravation  


It is the one thing standing between you and your new gadget. It creates an immense amount of frustration and anxiety. Even worse, it is the culprit of many injuries during the holidays. Hard-to-open, plastic package injuries cause an average of 6,000 people a year to visit the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  

The phrase “wrap rage” was coined for these feelings of anger and agitation. The wrap rage phenomenon was discovered in 2006 when Consumer Reports magazine created the Oyster Awards for the products with the hardest-to-open packaging. During a season filled with gifts, The Orthopaedic Institute (TOI) would like to help you preserve your hands and sanity when confronted with this resistant packaging.  

In the event of an injury or puncture wound to your hand, the first step is to run the injury under warm water and clean with soap. After clean, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. Then, make sure you do not have a more serious injury that would require immediate medical attention, said TOI’s Dr. James B. Slattery, board certified orthopaedic surgeon. He advises looking for the following warning signs:  

  • If you experience a loss of feeling, you may have nerve damage.  
  • If you lose any ability to move your fingers, you may have severed a tendon.  
  • After three to five days, if you notice red streaks extending up the arm from the injury, increased swelling and/or a fever, you may have an infection.  


To prevent an injury, keep in mind the following:  

First, check the back of the package to see if the manufacturer has provided an easy way to open with either perforations or a starting point. If not, there are a few alternatives to using potentially unsafe tools such as razor blades or box cutters.  

Can opener method: Use a manual rotary can opener to clamp down and cut the top of the packaging off. If this method does not open it entirely, you may have to insert a knife in-between to the two layers. At this point, using a knife is much safer to cut the remaining plastic.  

Commercial products method: There are many products sold specifically for opening hard, plastic packages.  

If you decide not to use the above methods, the Pennsylvania Medical Society suggests the following:  

  • If you must use a knife or another type of sharp object, cut away from your body.
  • If you must use scissors, use ones with blunt tips. Wear protective gloves.
  • Avoid opening tough-to-open packages in a crowded area.
  • Don’t use your legs to keep the product stable.  


TOI wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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TOI's Blog is dedicated to patient education with topics addressing current issues in health and medicine. We will also blog about some of our other favorite things, like community events, our wonderful employees, helping the environment and whatever else comes to our minds! We hope the information contained in our blog is fun to read, assists you in making educated decisions regarding your health, and supports your decision to select TOI when you are in need of quality musculoskeletal care.

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