16 Dec 2021

Personal Injury

Essential ‘Elf and Safety tips this Christmas

After somewhat of a subdued festive period last year, as the reintroduction of Tier-Four level restrictions prevented large gatherings, closed non-essential retail stores and pulled the shutters down on pubs and restaurants, thousands of people across the UK will be looking forward to a ‘normal’ Christmas – whatever that may be!

However, while we eagerly anticipate decorating the tree, dining on overcooked turkey and long overdue catch-ups with friends and family, (as well as the excitement of seeing what Santa will bring!), it is important to remain alive to the potential hazards that Christmas brings - some of which are much more common than you might think. Indeed, more than 80,000 people head to A&E each year for Christmas-related accidents.

Victoria Smithyman, Partner and head of our Personal Injury department, offers her top tips to keep you and your family safe as you enjoy the festive season.

Toying with danger.

While the internet offers parents a tech-based equivalent to Santa’s workshop, it’s worth remembering that safety regulations are not always front of mind for online vendors. A 2020 study by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) tested 200 toys from three of the largest online platforms – Amazon, eBay and AliExpress. The findings revealed that 58% of the toys purchased via third-party vendors did not comply with UK safety requirements.

Check that a CE Mark is present on all gifts, as this ensures that the product complies with the British and European Toy Safety Standards, and be alert to fake or imitation products that will likely have dodged a number of essential checks.

When in doubt, why not head to your high-street? After the last 18 months, independent stores and local shops will certainly appreciate your support.

On the big day, have scissors and a screwdriver to hand, to help with the unboxing and assembling. Also, add batteries to your shopping list. This will avoid the temptation to remove them from the smoke alarm – a lit-up Batcave will be far less useful in the event of a fire.

Keeping your kitchen hazard free.

While you’re busy preparing a feast, it can be easy to overlook the potential hazards that could put a stop to sitting around the table together.

Try to prep as many items as possible ahead of time – from peeling the potatoes to par-boiling the sprouts, to avoid unnecessary stress as you try to keep a watchful eye on a number of different dishes.

Try to minimise the number of people in the kitchen, especially while you’re taking dishes in and out of the oven – although keep your dedicated washer-upper on hand to help clear surfaces and wipe up spills quickly.

I’d also advise holding off the alcohol while you’re cooking. Pour the wine in the gravy for now, and enjoy a glass when you sit down alongside your guests.

Oh Christmas Tree…

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the real fir or have a 7-foot, artificial, pre-lit replacement propped up in your lounge, your tree can pose a number of threats.

Data from the RoSPA revealed that more than 1,000 people are hurt each year while decorating their tree, usually while fixing decorations to the highest branches. Slips and falls also occur when people attempt to use unstable chairs or stools. Make use of your ladder and don’t decorate alone – have a friend or partner (preferably a tall one) lend a hand to avoid overstretching.

If you have opted for a fresh tree, check the tree’s water supply on a daily basis and replenish often to avoid brittle branches. Keep your tree away from heat sources, such as radiators and fireplaces. And if it’s an artificial number that takes pride of place in your home, it might be worth allocating a little extra money to purchase a tree with flame-retardant branches, to give you some additional peace of mind.

Shine bright.

There’s nothing quite like the warm glow of Christmas lights to get you in the festive spirit. But when you’re fetching the fairy lights from the attic, make sure to check that the bulbs and wiring are in good working order and replace any worn or damaged sections.

And while they may have become a key part of family tradition, those old snowman-shaped lights could present a serious fire hazard. If you have had your decorations for a while, you may want to consider replacing them, as the newer LED lights are required to meet much higher safety standards that ensure they do not burn out or become hot to the touch.

Don’t overload your power points and make sure to turn off all lights when you leave the house and before bed.

And remember, decorations are not designed or sold as toys, meaning they are not subjected to the same safety standards. Keep an eye on glass baubles, tinsel and garlands as these can quickly become hazardous, especially to young children and pets.

Be mindful of open flames.

While a crackling log fire may spring to mind as the most obvious threat, it’s actually the smaller scented candles that cause a whole host of damage. Research by Direct Line indicated that one in five candle fires occur in December alone.

Keep your candles at least 30cm away from any surrounding objects and trim the wicks prior to lighting. Avoid placing them near open or draughty windows, as this encourages the flame to ‘flicker’.

It might be useful to create a night-time routine as you have more lights and heat sources dotted around your home – ensure that you blow out the candles in the room, switch off any lights and check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.

Eat, drink (responsibly) and be merry!

For many, Christmas will be a time to unwind with loved ones after yet another unpredictable year. However, drinking too much, too quickly can increase your risk of accidents.

Before you head out, make sure to grab something to eat so you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks – and if you can – factor in some snacks to slow down the absorption of alcohol.

Remember that drinking and driving kills. Drinkaware recommend avoiding alcohol completely if you are planning on driving, even if it is the following morning. Erring on the side of caution ensures that everyone will get to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

If you’ve suffered an accident or injury that wasn’t your fault, speak to our expert personal injury team who can help you find out if you’re eligible to make a claim. Get in touch today via phone (01633 244233) or send an email to hello@hevans.com.

Share post