Top Tips on Staying Safe at Christmas…

Image of Christmas lights for safety at Christmas blog post


Staying safe over the Festive Period

According to the NHS, more than 80,000 people a year need medical attention for injuries relating to Christmas trees, decorations, presents, slips and falls in and outside of the home, alcohol and Christmas dinners.

Even wrapping Christmas presents can be a dangerous task, causing injuries such as accidentally stabbing yourself with scissors, cutting yourself with a knife while curling ribbons or tripping over packaging and wrapping paper.

The Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government  have revealed that in 2011/12:

  • 1,000 house fires were caused by candles, resulting in 9 deaths and 388 casualties
  • 20 fires were caused by fairly lights, and 47 by Christmas Trees, decorations and cards resulting in 20 non-fatal casualties.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) 2012/13

  • People are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than any other time of the year.
  • Approximately 1000 people are injured by their tree every year, either while putting it up or decorating it.
  • 350 are injured by Christmas tree lights each year, including falls while putting them up, electric shock and children swallowing the bulbs.
  • More than 90,000 people were admitted to hospital for injuries relating to slips, trips and falls.


Image of Christmas Dinner for Timms Safety at Christmas blog post


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) data has also shown that:

  • Road traffic accidents are much higher in December than any other month in the year, increasing by about 30% for women and 9% for men.
  • Accidental falls are up by 16% for women and 21% for men in December.
  • During the festive season we tend to drink 40% more in December than the annual monthly average.
  • Over 600 million units or 265 million pints of pure alcohol are drunk by Brits each December (DrinkAware 2019)

And according to a survey conducted by the National Accident Helpline:

  • Nearly half (49%) of those preparing Christmas food have suffered an accident
  • 1 in 10 (11%) have spilled hot fat on themselves when cooking
  • Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) have cut themselves preparing vegetables
  • More than 1 in 40 (2.7%) people have suffered an electric shock due to badly wired Christmas lights
  • 1 in 50 (2.1%) have fallen out of the loft while getting decorations down
  • Nearly a third (32%) of people have fallen on ice
  • 8% of those aged 16-24 have had to make a trip to A&E during the festive season
  • There have been 400,000 burnt Christmas turkeys
  • 500,000 people have had a gas leak or gas emergency in the home
  • Half a million people have had a fire in the home
  • 6 million people have fallen off a stool or ladder while hanging up decorations
  • 600,000 people have burned themselves roasting chestnuts over an open fire
  • 700,000 people have been injured in a sale rush when shopping


Top Tips on Christmas Safety…

  1. Keep decorations and cards away from lights, heaters, fires and other heat sources.  Don’t leave burning candles unattended and never leave them near your tree.
  2. Don’t let children play with fairy lights, and if you have old ones, consider buying new ones which have much higher safety standards.  Rules on fairy lights changed in 2010 and they became more efficient and use less energy, which means a lower risk of electric shock.
  3. Look out for small items which could pose a choking hazard to small children – parts fallen off toys or Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons.  Keep holly and mistletoe out of reach of children and pets as these are poisonous plants.  Check that children’s toys are age-appropriate.
  4. Give yourself enough time to prepare Christmas dinner to avoid rushing around and suffering accidents from boiling water, hot fat and sharp knives.  Wipe up any spills immediately.  Keep other people out of the kitchen while you are cooking.  Check defrosting and cooking times well ahead of the day in order to avoid food poisoning and don’t leave buffet food out for hours on end.
  5. To avoid trips and falls, beware of trailing cables and wires and try to keep clutter to a minimum.  Use a proper stepladder, rather than standing on chairs, stools and sofas when decorating your Christmas tree.  Don’t go up to the loft when you’re alone in the house and have someone on hand to pass the boxes down.  Keep your pathways and drive clear of snow and ice and wear appropriate footwear with soles that grip if you’re out in bad weather.

And if you are out and about and driving…

  1. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and pay attention to weather warnings. Family and friends will understand if you have to reschedule plans to avoid travelling on icy, snowy roads
  2. Read up on how to drive safely in the ice and snow. The RAC has a great guide to winter driving
  3. Driving in super busy Christmas traffic can be stressful, increasing the risk of accidents. If possible plan to avoid busy times by setting off early in the morning or later in the evening
  4. Consult online traffic guides before setting off. Google Mapshas live traffic information and the Highways Agency records planned motorway roadworks
  5. Be mindful of drinks consumed the night before when driving at Christmas. When the evening’s over, allow at least an hour for every unit consumed before you get behind the wheel
  6. Plan long journeys so you won’t be driving tired
  7. Do not drink and drive
Post written by Natasha Layton
December 2018

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