12 hazards of christmas

The big day is nearly here but, alongside the happiness surrounding the festive season, there are also a lot of health risks to consider…


1.   Accidents at Home

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, an incredible 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for Christmas-related injuries.  Mishaps include cuts from opening presents, people electrocuting themselves on fairy lights, and falling whilst putting up decorations.

AVOID IT:   Don’t use makeshift tools to open presents.  Assemble toys with proper tools.  Use a sturdy stepladder to put up decorations and don’t overreach!

2.  Festive Fires

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without fairy lights or festive candles but both are fire-hazards. Candles alone spark thousands of house fires per year according to government figures.

AVOID IT:   Be careful not to overload sockets and never leave candles or cooking unattended.  And don’t forget to test your smoke alarms – you’re at least four times more likely to die in a house fire if there’s no working smoke alarm.

3.   Christmas Decorations

Hundreds of people injure themselves every year by falling out of the loft, or through the ceiling, while retrieving the Christmas decorations. Sparkly Christmas decorations can prove irresistible to pets – close supervision of animals in decorated rooms, and ideally never leaving pets unattended around the tree will make sure it remains vertical, and in one piece, for the rest of the season!  

AVOID IT:  Decorations burn easily, so don’t put them near lights or heaters.  Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety standard logo and always unplug them before you go out, or go to bed.

4.   Food Poisoning

The risk of food poisoning rises over Christmas because people cook food that they don’t usually cook – and for larger numbers.

AVOID IT:  Always put raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so the juices, which may contain food-poisoning bacteria, can’t drip down, contaminating cooked food.  Don’t overfill your fridge, and make sure leftovers have cooled before putting them back to avoid raising the temperature, which encourages bacteria.  Most importantly, wash your hands, and dry them thoroughly, before preparing any food and after handling raw meat.  Allow adequate time to defrost your turkey. And have separate plastic cutting boards for meat and veg – making sure to wash and clean knives before swapping from one to another.

5.  Alcohol

It’s Christmas, so most of us like a few drinks – which can often mean a few too many but alcohol reduces one’s risk awareness meaning that accidents are more likely to happen in the kitchen and the home if you’ve over done it.

AVOID IT:  If you’re having more than a couple of drinks, go for light-coloured alcohol such as white wine or vodka rather than red wine or whisky. Dark drinks contain more chemical by-products called congeners, which make you more likely to get a hangover.  Before drinking, eat food containing complex carbohydrates, protein and fat, such as a tuna mayo sandwich on wholemeal bread.  Try to drink water in between, or alongside, ­alcoholic drinks and if you drink spirits, dilute them with juice rather than fizzy drinks, which increase the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your blood.

6.   Choking

Small parts from toys or gadgets, novelties from crackers or even burst balloons can easily become a choking hazard for children.  Glass and fragile decorations should be out of reach of toddlers and pets.  Novelty decorations, such as stuffed Santas, reindeer and snowmen that may look like toys do not have to comply with toy safety standards and may be dangerous.  Keep them out of the reach of children and make sure you know what to do if your child does start choking.

AVOID IT:   Be cautious about giving to your child: Popcorn, boiled sweets, chunks of cheese, whole or chopped nuts, sausages – while ‘pigs in blankets are sure to make an appearance at most Christmas dinners this year, their tough skins and awkward shape make them a serious choking hazard to children.

7.   Poisonous Plants and Pets

There are many potentially hazardous plants around over the Christmas period.  Amaryllis, Poinsettias, Holly berries, Mistletoe and Yew are all irritants and potentially toxic to your pets.  If digested, the most common signs include drooling, mouth sores, vomiting and diarrhoea.  Even drinking the water from the base of your Christmas tree can cause these signs, especially if preservatives and fertilizers are used.

AVOID IT:   Place plastic covers/bags over the base of the tree, and move plants to areas where your pet is less inclined to have a nibble.

8.  Wrapping Paper

Some wrapping paper may contain toxic substances  — inks, dyes, and other chemicals used to treat the paper can sometimes include heavy metals.  However, where the paper was manufactured will have a strong bearing on whether it actually contains toxic components.

AVOID IT:   Handling the paper ,and wrapping gifts with it, isn’t going to make you sick, but as a rule of thumb, don’t let children put it in their mouths – and don’t burn it.

9.   The Kitchen

Splashing yourself with hot fat ,or burning yourself on pans, shouldn’t be a Christmas tradition and carving yourself rather than the turkey should also be avoided.  Be careful, the Christmas Dinner is a grand undertaking, and some of us are in need of practice!

AVOID IT:  Keep the kitchen floor free of unnecessary obstacles.  Always Turn your pot and pan handles in, and make sure that your clothing is close-fitting, non-flammable, and free of chords or other dangling parts.

10.  Button Batteries

Recently there has been a chilling new hazard in the form of button, or coin, batteries which are often found in small toys or decorations but can be extremely poisonous if swallowed, especially by children.  All those battery compartments have that tiny screw for a reason – button batteries are corrosive and burn the inside of intestines, causing major internal bleeding.

AVOID IT:  If a battery is missing and you think it possible a child has swallowed it, take them to A&E immediately for an x-ray as lithium batteries can kill within hours.  Be aware that whilst batteries in children’s products are covered by safety regulations, and are required to have a screwed-down cover, many Christmas novelty items such as flashing Santa hats or musical cards are not.

11.   Silica Gel

Silica gel is a desiccant – a substance that sucks up water in its environment.  It comes in small sachets used to keep moisture out of electrical equipment, clothes, bags or toys.   The sachets are small and easily missed so be aware to look out for them.

AVOID IT:  Although non-toxic and chemically inert, it can cause choking in children and pets.

12.   Knock-Offs

More than 35,000 children under 15 go to A&E after an accident involving a toy each year.  Always get age-appropriate toys from a reputable manufacturer, and check for the European Standard CE, or the British Lion Mark, to make sure they’ve been tested to the highest standards of safety and quality.  Substandard, cheap novelties or toys, which haven’t passed stringent British Safety Standards for toxins, flammability, small parts and sharp edges are always a danger to children.

AVOID IT:  Ensure to only buy from trusted retailers and look for the Lion Mark or CE marking.  Check that the product description states that the toy is original, is that any text is not blurry or has spelling errors.

With all the doom and gloom out of the way, we’d like to wish all of our customers a Merry Christmas and a splendid New Year!


Categories: General