Christmas is an exciting time of year as families come together to celebrate. However, studies by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have shown it is also a potentially dangerous time of year. More than 6,000 people will end up in hospital on Christmas Day and more than 80,000 will visit A&E over the Christmas period. Recent years have seen an increase in injuries involving falls from ladders while decorating houses with fairy lights and cuts from broken glass ornaments. Christmas trees alone account for more than 1,000 injuries each year.
RoSPA have issued the following advice to keep you and your family safe this Christmas.
Hot food, boiling water and sharp knives can make the kitchen particularly hazardous. Try to keep everyone other than the cook, especially pets and children, out of the kitchen. Refrain from drinking alcohol until the cooking is finished and wipe up any spills as soon as they happen so people don’t slip.
A staggering 350 people a year are injured by Christmas tree lights, including falls while they’re being put up, children swallowing the bulbs, and electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.
RoSPA’s advise that you ‘Test your lights and the wiring before you put them up, as they can deteriorate over the years. If you have old lights, buy new ones that meet higher safety standards, don’t overload sockets, as that’s a fire risk.’
Alcohol, tiredness and excited children make the stairs an accident hotspot during Christmas. If you have guests staying who may be unfamiliar with the layout of the house and could fall down the stairs whilst going to the loo at night, leave a light on and keep stairs free of any clutter.
RoSPA revealed that over 1,000 people each year are hurt while decorating their homes with children biting into glass baubles and adults falling while using unstable chairs instead of ladders to put up streamers.
RoSPA’s advice is that ‘Glass decorations should be placed out of the reach of toddlers and pets, Novelty decorations, such as stuffed santas, reindeer and snowmen, which look like toys, may not comply with strict toy safety regulations. Therefore, they should not be within the reach of children.’
Over the Christmas period there is a huge increase in house fires. ‘Never put candles on or near a Christmas tree, never leave an open flame unattended. Always place tea lights inside an appropriate container as they have been known to burn through baths and televisions.’
While mistletoe might seem festive and romantic it is highly poisonous as the berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations. The orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach pains and similarly, the Christmas rose can cause violent diarrhoea.
RoSPA’s advice is to ‘Check with the garden centre whether the plants you’re buying are toxic and if they are, either don’t buy them, or keep them out of the reach of children.’
Indigestion and food poisoning
Food poisoning is always a worry at Christmas. If you are cooking turkey make sure you read the instructions on the turkey carefully and never risk taking short cuts as it takes hours to cook a turkey properly. Undercooked turkey can cause salmonella poisoning, which can be life-threatening, especially for those who are very young, older or frail.
One of the effects of alcohol that can make it dangerous is its ability to reduce one’s risk awareness. At the end of the day ensure any residual alcohol is emptied out of glasses as children could drink the remains if they are up before the adults. Never drink and drive.
Have a wonderful Christmas period as it is a special and magical time. A little forward planning can ensure that it is a memorable time, for all the right reasons. Make sure you have a good quality First Aid kit to hand and that you are equipped with the skills and knowledge to confidently help with a medical emergency.
Read our article on what to include in your Christmas essential First Aid kit
It is strongly advised that parents attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
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First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.