IT should be the season of goodwill to all, but the festive season can be littered with hazards.
In recent years, 2.6million people have fallen off a stool or ladder while hanging decorations, while more than 350 people annually are injured by fairy lights, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
To make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, we highlight a dozen dangers you should watch out for.
A BUCK’S fizz here, a mulled wine there – the booze can really add up.
Ashley Martin, public health adviser from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “It’s essential you never drink and drive, and remember that even at home accidents often happen when your guard is down, so make sure children are supervised at all times.
“One of the effects of drinking is loss of balance, so if you’re with someone who has had one too many, make sure you help them should they need to travel somewhere tricky, like down steps.”
CHRISTMAS is meant to be a time of joy, but it can also be a very lonely one if you feel there is no one you can turn to.
GP Dr Thuva Amuthan said: “Take a moment to think about all that is dear to you and that you’re grateful for.
“If you’re feeling down, talk to those around you. Speak to your GP about local support for mental health, and support lines like Samaritans (116 123) are open 24/7.
“You can also self-refer for talking therapies on the NHS without your GP.”
PINNING up the mistletoe could result in a very different kind of smacker – and watch out when climbing up to tweak last-minute Christmas decorations.
Ashley said: “If using on a chair to fix a decoration, make sure it’s a strong, sturdy one. Ideally, use a step stool or ladder.
“If you can’t easily reach the area you want to decorate, find a more sensible spot.
“Try to put up decorations with someone else to ensure you’re not alone should an accident occur.”
ALL those pigs in blankets and cheese – how can you say no?
But Dr Amuthan said: “Try to be mindful of your food portions. Have a balanced diet with five portions of different fruit and vegetables a day.
“If you’re feeling bloated, chew your food well with your mouth closed, and drink lots of water with your food.
“Try to eat smaller, more frequent meals and exercise regularly to improve digestion.
“Pharmacies can help with remedies for indigestion, but if it doesn’t settle, see your GP.”
WATCH out when switching fairy lights on and off, and be careful of wires lying around. You don’t want an electric shock.
Ashley said: “Always buy from a reputable store. Never insert or remove bulbs when they’re switched on.
“Always inspect cables and bulbs for damage. If you are putting lights outdoors, only use lights that have been designed for this purpose.”
TAKING your eye off the ball amid the festivities is easily done but could result in an injury.
Ashley said: “Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid inevitable accidents that come from rushing.
“When chopping, avoid distractions that might make it more likely for you to cut yourself. Wipe up any spills quickly.
“Make sure toys and other presents are bought from trusted retailers and check products for sharp edges, choking hazards or anything that could injure a child before gifting.”
UP AND DOWN
CHILDREN are likely to be hyped up on sugar and presents, which makes stairways more of a risk than usual.
Ashley said: “Lead by example and make sure you don’t rush around or down the stairs.
“Many slips and trips happen away from the stairs, so try to keep clutter to a minimum.
“You should also try to make sure stairways and other areas are well-lit and free from obstacles.”
MANOEUVRING the turkey in and out of the oven and lighting the Christmas pud is a disaster waiting to happen.
Ashley said: “To avoid burns, use oven gloves when handling anything that has recently been in the oven.
“Don’t be tempted to use a tea towel, especially a wet one, as they conduct heat much faster.
“Keep decorations and cards away from fires and heat sources like light fittings and don’t leave burning candles unattended.”
AS we were all too tragically reminded last week with the deaths of four young children in a frozen lake, ice can be lethal.
Ashley said: “Be aware of dangers. Check the weather forecast before setting off anywhere.
“Over 50 per cent of ice-related drownings involve an attempted rescue of another person or a dog. In many instances, the dog scrambled ashore unaided while the owner did not.
“Don’t throw balls for dogs near frozen water and if they do get into trouble, do not attempt to rescue them by venturing on to the ice.”
NO one wants to have turkey with a side of food poisoning.
Dr Amuthan said: “Make sure food is thoroughly cooked before serving.
“Keep any leftovers in the fridge in containers away from uncooked food and make sure you heat leftovers thoroughly.
“If someone develops food poisoning, it’s important to keep fluid intake up.
“And if symptoms aren’t better in 24 hours or there’s blood in vomit, you feel dehydrated or you’re unable to keep water down, call 111.”
ALLERGIES can strike at any time, so always check the food labels of your festive favourites to avoid having a bad reaction.
Dr Amuthan said: “Many Christmas delicacies may contain milk, eggs and nuts, which are common allergens.
“Also, watch out for a Christmas tree allergy.
“It has similar symptoms to a cold, with a runny nose and sneezing.
“It’s worth stocking up on antihistamines before Christmas, just in case.”
AVOID doing your back in lugging the tree around.
Ashley said: “Always bend with your knees before picking up a heavy object like a Christmas tree, and ask for assistance if it is too difficult to move on your own.
“Losing your footing could result in a nasty fall, which is one of the leading causes of accidents within the home.”
Also remember to tense your tummy muscles when picking up children or bending down to grab presents from out under the tree – it’ll help protect your back.
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