Avoid common Christmas health hazards this year with this guide to staying safe
With the Christmas meal usually involving several saucepans simultaneously bubbling away, a sweltering packed oven, and a marathon of chopping, slicing and carving, it’s no surprise the kitchen’ is where most festive injuries happen.
Avoid a cooking catastrophe by making sure anyone not involved stays out of the way, and wipe spillages as soon as they happen.
If you suffer a minor burn, immediately hold it under cold running water for at least ten minutes, then wrap in cling film to avoid infection. To stop bleeding from a cut finger, raise it above your head.
Festive fun will quickly fester if the whole family comes down with food poisoning, which not only causes major discomfort but can be fatal. Nowadays, most people are aware of the importance of washing their hands after handling raw meat, especially poultry. However, it’s not necessary to wash the meat itself, as water that sprays off can spread bacteria. The key is to make sure the turkey or chicken is cooked through.
Follow instructions and always check it’s ready by piercing the bird where the thigh meets the breast – its thickest area. The juices that run out should be clear, not pink. Keep raw and cooked foods well apart, to avoid cross contamination.
For many, Christmas isn’t complete without a real tree. But take care that any allergies or asthma in your loved ones are not exacerbated by mould spores carried by the trussed-up conifer.
Moreover, around 1,000 people are injured annually by their tree. When decorating it, or reaching for presents underneath, watch out for branches – the needles can cause nasty eye injuries. When reaching to the top of a tall tree, stand on a sturdy chair or stepladder and ask somebody to hold it steady.
Take care also to stand the tree securely, and position it in an area where it’s least likely to be knocked or tripped over.
Candles and fairy lights may look dazzling, but they can also be a fire hazard – especially with all that flammable tinsel and wrapping paper around. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire-resistant, and ensure your tree is kept a safe distance from the fireplace, electric heater or any open flames.
Fairy lights which are faulty or in bad condition can be a major cause of injury, including electrocution. Make sure yours comply with EU safety regulations, and when getting last year’s lights out, inspect them carefully before plugging them in, to ensure the wires are intact and haven’t frayed or been chewed by a mouse! Crucially, always remember to switch off lights and put out candles before going to bed.
Dangling baubles, flashing fairy lights, glittering tinsel… Just a few of the many things that can be extremely enticing to little paws and hands at Christmas – and dangerous, too. Many tree ornaments are fragile and can easily smash. Also, pets and toddlers are both fond of shoving hazardous objects into their mouths, which can result in intestinal damage for cats and dogs and choking for tots.
Be careful of small parts in presents and toys, too, and NEVER leave candles or bubbling pans unattended when there are children and pets around – serious accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.
What with all the work parties and get-togethers with friends, it’s easy to drink more than usual over the festive season. Alcohol doesn’t just wreak havoc with our bodies, it can also make accidents more likely. Have fun but be cautious – on a big night out, alternate with water or soft drinks and arrange safe transport home in advance.
On Christmas Day, don’t get too tipsy if you’re cooking the dinner – hot stoves, knives and booze are a dangerous combination. Watch out also for injuries from flying corks when opening champagne.
There’s a lot of pressure at Christmas – to be out having lots of fun, keeping difficult relatives happy, draining bank accounts to buy presents. No wonder it can become overwhelming.
Help yourself by focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t, or what you can’t afford. If getting through a family Christmas is a concern, plan an active itinerary, with walks and games, to reduce the potential for conflict. If possible, an activity alone, such as a relaxing bath, will do wonders.