It might be the most wonderful time of the year but even the most wonderous festive season can be littered with avoidable personal injuries. In fact, research carried out by the National Accident Helpline found that 1 in 4 people feel more stressed than usual during the Christmas period, rising to nearly a third among women. With the hustle and bustle of tidying your house, getting the decorations up, and panic buying and wrapping presents, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men say they are more likely to do things in a rush. And when things are done in a rush, accidents do tend to follow.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), over 80,000 people a year require medical treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts, and burns over Christmas season. Let’s take a look at the most common personal injuries and we’ll give you our top tips on how you can avoid them.
Road Traffic Accidents
It comes as no surprise that in December traffic accidents are much higher than any other month of the year. This could be down to the weather or just the sheer volume of traffic as people travel home for Christmas. Always make sure you pre-plan your route, leave yourself plenty of time for travel, and follow weather advice if there are any weather warnings in place.
Trips and Falls
Did you know that 2.6 million people have fallen off a stool or ladder whilst hanging decorations? Tinsel, decorations, garlands, ladders…getting your home or workplace ready for the festive season can be dangerous. Always make sure that where you’re looking to hang your decorations is accessible and won’t require adverse risk, e.g., standing on a stool on top of a table, standing on an unfirm surface, or stretching unnecessarily. Make sure your decorations are visible, so they do not cause trip hazards and they are able to be taken down easily. All of these things can cause you to lose balance and fall.
Electrical and Fire Safety
More than 1 in 40 people have suffered an electric shock due to poorly wired Christmas lights. Make sure that your Christmas lights and any electric decorations are bought under warranty and are packed away each year carefully – making sure the wires aren’t bent or at risk of breaking. Over half a million have had a fire in their home, so make sure if you have a real Christmas tree that requires watering, that your electrical socket and lights are out of the way.
Nearly half of those preparing Christmas food have suffered an accident – from cuts when preparing vegetables, burns from hot fat, or smoke inhalation from burning turkeys – taking care in the kitchen will help you avoid injuries that land you in A&E on Christmas Day.
Christmas is an exciting time for families with young children, but a lot of the traditions can in fact be dangerous for kids. Christmas crackers can include small toys which can be choking hazards and the kitchen can be a ‘no go’ area in terms of hot plates, dishes, pots and pans. Not only this, but children can cause injury inadvertently to adults, as through sheer excitement they can become trip hazards and can cause harm if not properly supervised. Make sure you have a designated area for children to occupy where they can play with their toys but still have adult supervision. For younger children, a stair gate across the kitchen doorway can keep them out of harm’s way while Christmas dinner is cooking.
All Wrapped Up
Unboxing presents and getting them wrapped up requires tape, wrapping paper, and of course – scissors or a craft knife. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get your gifts wrapped so that you’re not rushing, as this is when accidents can happen.
Everyone indulges a little more than they usually would over the Christmas period. Those with existing allergies know to take extra special care, especially with catered food such as at Christmas parties. However, it’s been recorded that thousands of people every year discover that they have underlying allergies they didn’t know about before Christmas when they experiment. Make sure you clearly check the ingredients before tucking into any new sweet treats.
The festive season is marked with office parties, hot toddies, ‘adult’ hot chocolate, mulled wine, and other Christmas fare. A previous study found that over 600 million units or 265 million pints of pure alcohol were drunk by Brits each December. Make sure you know your limit and make preparations in advance for travel via train, taxi, or Uber in case you do overindulge. It’s also important to pace yourself, drink water, and not drink on an empty stomach.
Sprains and strains are some of the most common injuries which occur during the festivities. Be it from straining to put up decorations in awkward, hard to reach places, or from lifting heavy boxes. Make sure you don’t strain yourself by picking up too many boxes at once and take multiple trips to avoid injury. In turn, when packing and tidying away your decorations, make sure you spread the load and don’t put all your heavy decorations in one box.
ROSPA estimates that every year, about 1,000 people are injured by their Christmas tree – usually whilst fixing decorations onto the higher branches. Make sure you can safely reach the top of your Christmas tree if you are fixing decorations e.g., via step ladder on a non-slip surface. Make sure that your tree is on a flat surface and the decorations are evenly distributed so that it is less likely to topple over.
- Hanging Decorations
It’s not just Christmas trees that make people feel festive and bright. Hanging decorations that adorn the outside of your home or business can make them stand out from the crowd. However, hanging decorations are often heavy or sharp and if they’re not secured properly, winter weather can cause them to fall, potentially resulting in horrible injuries. Make sure that your hanging decorations or ornaments are properly secured, especially if they hang above high traffic areas or public footpaths.
Snow is Falling
Whilst many of us may be dreaming of a white Christmas, snow, ice, fog and sleet can increase the likelihood of road traffic accidents and personal injuries. Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear is essential and foreplaning your travel will help mitigate any unforeseen circumstances. The RAC also has a handy guide to help navigate driving in snow, you can check it out here.
Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we’d like to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and we hope you have a safe and fun-filled festive season. Just remember, whether it’s Christmas or any other time of year, our personal injury team is always here and ready to help you.
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.