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Beware of Wrap Rage This Christmas


There is road rage, roid rage, and now wrap rage. According to a poll conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society, 17 percent of Pennsylvanians experienced an injury or know someone who was injured while opening gifts during the Christmas season or a birthday.

The term “wrap rage,” according to the American Dialect Society, is defined as the anger people experience when they are frustrated by trying to open a factory-sealed package, typically ones in packaging known as clamshell or oyster shell. During these “rages,” some people become injured, usually because they have tried to open the package with a sharp implement and then have cut or punctured themselves.

Clamshell or oyster packaging is used increasingly to encase electronics, toys, and other products. Retailers and manufacturers like the packaging because it protects items during shipping and from shoplifters once they reach store shelves, but consumers can see what they are buying.

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The new survey, which was conducted by the Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society in July 2009, asked adults if they had or knew someone who had ever been injured while opening holiday or birthday gift packaging. Although a majority (82.7%) said no, 6.3 percent said they knew of one occurrence, and 11 percent said they knew of more than one occurrence.

An article published by Treehugger on January 18, 2009, noted that approximately 6,000 people per year go to an emergency department with lacerations and puncture wounds they have gotten by attempting to open clamshell packaging. Some injuries occur when skin meets the sharp edges of half-opened packaging, while others happen when frustrated consumers use scissors, knives, or other implements to open the package.

To avoid being a victim of wrap rage this Christmas season, it may be best to heed the advice of physicians at Pennsylvania Medical Society. They recommend that consumers wear protective gloves, avoid opening difficult packages in a crowded area, avoid using your legs to keep the item stable, cut away from your body if you use a knife or another sharp object, and if you use scissors to choose ones that have blunt tips. Fortunately, there are now implements on the market to help open these difficult packages and thus hopefully reduce the occurrence of wrap rage during this Christmas and many more to come.

American Medical News, Dec. 22, 2008
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Peterson J, Treehugger Jan. 18, 2009