Christmas is nearly upon us again; that annual consumer festival of last minute frenzied shopping, trying to find a gift for aged grandparents and small toddlers, standing in huge queues in supermarkets, worrying about whether you have enough food and drink in the house, wrestling with stuffing and turkeys etc.
I sound very cynical, but really I love Christmas: the decorations, the smell of pine trees, mulled wine and cinnamon. There is something delightful about seeing the excitement on small children’s faces as they count down the sleeps till Father Christmas arrives.
You might therefore be surprised to learn that amongst all the jollity and goodwill, Christmas heralds a wealth of opportunities to injure oneself in the comfort of your own home.
Each year hundreds of people are injured over the festive season and the home appears to be one of the most dangerous places to be.
Injuries include those caused by:
Kitchens – cuts from carving the turkey, burns from hot fat, poisoning from undercooked food and buffets that have been left out all day
Choking – at least one person a year chokes on their turkey!
Slips, trips and falls as we clamber over piles of toys etc
Stairs – from clutter left on them, and falling down them in new slippers or after too much alcohol
Decorations – fairy lights can cause house fires – 47 house fires were caused last year by decorations
Presents – cuts to hands and fingers are common as people take knives and scissors to open plastic packaging
Alcohol – drink driving, falls,drinking to excess.
Sometimes it seems that the stress of trying to achieve the “Perfect Christmas” ensures that by the time the day comes around we are all exhausted with fraying tempers. When tiredness, alcohol and the strains of having extra guests get on top of us, accidents are more likely to occur.
Your Local A&E
The NHS and A&E units across the country are creaking at the seams and at this time of year units are particularly busy dealing with the illnesses and accidents that winter brings, the slips, trips and falls caused by ice and the usual rounds of ‘flu and winter vomiting.
Not all injuries need to be seen in A&E, so unless you really need it, give your local A&E a miss this Christmas. Walk in centres and GP surgeries can deal with many things and 999/112 should only be reserved for true Emergencies such as choking, heart attacks, strokes and broken bones.
Many minor injuries can be dealt with by applying a good dose of common sense and basic first aid. Please think before you dial 999, “is this really an emergency or can I deal with it, or would a walk in centre be better?”
Make sure you have adequate supplies of any of your usual medications as a walk in centres will not be able to issue repeat prescriptions. Stock up on basic over the counter remedies to deal with minor aches and pains etc.
Above all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Many use hair straighteners on a daily basis to achieve the sleek look which they want to present to the world. However, for the unfortunate or careless few, including adults and children in particular, use of hair straighteners can cause a lifetime of scarring and damage.
A report from the paediatric burns department at Frenchay hospital in Bristol has indicated that 110 children have been treated for serious burns in the last five years caused by hair straighteners. Many others will have been treated for similar injuries across the other regional burn units, and still more minor burns will have been treated at GP’s.
Serious burns caused by these devices are now the third most common cause of burn injury to children after hot drinks and hot food. Treatment for such serious burns often result in lengthy hospital stays and skin grafts.
Hair straighteners get hot – very hot; up to 230 degrees in fact. At temperatures like this it is very easy to see how children and toddlers could get burned just by picking them up by the wrong end or by standing on them accidentally.
Accidents can easily be prevented by ensuring that they are turned off after use, put into heat-resistant pouches and then put away. Do not leave hot straighteners lying around to cool down, particularly if young children are present in the house.
Any area that is burned needs to be cooled down with copious amounts of water to reduce the burning and to help remove the heat from the skin. Depending on the size and depth of the area burned, it may be appropriate to cover with either a proprietary burns dressing or with clingfilm. Seek medical advice if the area damaged is larger than an inch square or the injured person is a child or if you are worried in any way.