Beware the Wrath of “Wrap Rage”

Do you have “wrap rage” at the thought of trying to pry open the packaging of all those holiday gifts? In addition to being frustrating and time-consuming, it appears opening gifts can cause injury, as well: A recent polls shows that about 17 percent of Pennsylvania adults experienced an injury or know someone who was injured while opening gifts during past seasons.

The Patient Poll, conducted by the Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society in July 2009, asked participants, “Have you or someone you know ever been injured (such as receiving a cut that required medical attention) while opening the packaging (not gift wrap) of a holiday or birthday gift?” Nearly 17 percent answered “yes,” with 11 percent admitting this has occurred more than once.

Wrap Rage

According to the American Dialect Society, wrap rage is defined as anger brought on by the frustration of trying to open a factory-sealed purchase. The organization recognized the term in 2007 as one of the “most useful.”

A March 2006 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Todd Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports, as saying, “Today’s packages force consumers to fight tooth and nail to get at what’s inside.”

The same article also claims that 2001 Census Bureau data shows people suffer twice the injuries from packaging than injuries from skateboards or swimming pools.

As we enter the holiday season, Pennsylvania’s physicians encourage citizens to play it safe with tough-to-open packaging to avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room. Follow these tips to avoid injury while unwrapping presents this year:

  • 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.
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