Christmas is coming, and although that translates to endless joy for most of us, statistics show that it is also one of the most dangerous times of year.
The week leading up to Christmas is one of the busiest for A&E services, with NHS statistics showing that over 80,000 people require medical attention for injuries relating to trees, decorations, alcohol, paper cuts and Christmas dinners.
Could your Christmas tree be the reason for your last supper? Oh listen, all ye faithful.
During the festive season, we all tend to get a bit carried away — and that includes alcohol consumption. Britons tend to drink 41% more in December than the annual monthly average.
A wave of hospital admittees suffering acute intoxication at Christmas and New Year hit A&E departments eight years ago, with a recorded figure of 176 alcohol related admissions on the Saturday before Christmas and steadily rising figures in the years since. Figures show that deaths caused by drugs and alcohol in 2010 and 2011 were 13% above the December/January average between December 21 and January 19.
Household Accidents ONS figures show deaths caused by accidents in the home were 15% above average between December 21 2010 and January 19 2011, mostly due to falls, fire and choking. In 2011, 2,911 deaths were caused by accidents in the home, with a majority of them occurring around Christmas.
According to figures released by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 90,000 people were admitted to hospital for injuries relating to slips, trips and stumbles in 2012/13, with more than 60% involving people over the age of 70. So try not to fall, especially from Grace.
Christmas Tree and Decorations
It’s the season to be merry, and we intend to help you keep it that way. Not to bark up the wrong tree, but your evergreen is more dangerous than it lets on.
Approximately 1,000 people are injured by their tree every year, either while putting it up or decorating it, according to the RoSPA. If you’re looking at giving yours a DIY trim, remember that 3,000 people were admitted to the hospital after coming into contact with power tools and household machinery in 2012/2013.
According to RoSPA, an additional 350 people are injured by Christmas tree lights each year, including people falling while putting them up, children swallowing the bulbs and, most common of all, electric shocks.
Rules governing fairy lights were changed in 2010: lights purchased after this date are more efficient and use less energy, which means they also come with a lower risk of electric shock.
People are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year. You’re advised to never leave candles near your tree. Keep them away from pets — and remember to keep an eye on them, never leaving them unattended. According to an NHS Livewell release, candles have also been known to burn through baths and television sets.
Mistletoe is poisonous, but then so could be the relationship you end up in because of it. Its berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations.
Orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach aches and the Christmas rose causes diarrhoea. It was used as a chemical weapon by the ancient Greeks. Check before you buy Christmas plants, and if they are toxic, keep out of reach of children.
As for that boy you kissed under the mistletoe? That’s down to your own good judgement. But perhaps take a word of caution from Natil Halil, director of health and wellbeing at the Family Planning Association.
Halil said: “It’s not unusual for people to have accidents during the party season because of contraception or unprotected sex. And we tend to see more teenagers become pregnant in December and January than other months of the year.”
Typical Christmas Day accidents include parents accidentally stabbing themselves with scissors, people cutting themselves with knives while curling ribbons, and people tripping over packaging and wrapping paper. Sheila Merrill, home safety manager at RoSPA, advises you take it slow, savour the moment and wrap with caution.