Fright-free Festive Fun

Are you ready for Christmas yet?  Now that the Christmas tree is up and lights are twinkling I’m beginning to feel more festive and the childrens’ excitement levels are rising daily.

Christmas is obviously a time when families get together to play, eat, drink and generally be merry. Unfortunately it is also a time when bizarre accidents are more likely to happen, (perhaps fuelled by alcohol or just by having too many people in a crowded space).

Each accident and emergency department across the land will, no doubt, have their fair share of people coming through the departments with injuries caused by cooking the Christmas dinner ranging from oven burns to more serious cuts.

Common Accidents

Various websites, hospitals and others  have listed a range of accidents from Christmas past.  Some are more daft than others.  Here’s a range of them…

Electrocution from…

  • faulty tree lights
  • watering the Christmas tree while the lights are still on!
  • testing a 9V battery on your tongue!

Broken bones after…

  • falling off ladders whilst decorating the tree
  • pulling Xmas crackers too violently!
  • tripping over new toys

Fires caused by:

  • faulty Christmas lights (again)
  • carelessness while using candles

Choking on…

  • the turkey
  • non-chocolate tree decorations

Cuts & bleeding from…

  • slicing your hand whilst wrestling with the plastic packaging on new toys
  • treading on toys, or on discarded toy packaging

Miscellaneous others

  • various alcohol-related injuries, too numerous to mention
  • being poked in the eye with a Christmas tree branch whilst trying to retrieve presents at the back of the tree

And our particular favourite…

  • injuries sustained while colliding with out-of-control Scalextric cars!

With all these hazards in mind, while you are out getting new batteries for the kids toys, why not pick up a few extra supplies of plasters and hangover cures. Take a quick peek at your first aid book, just to remind yourself of common treatments for those unfortunate accidents that may just happen.

Above all, I wish you a safe and very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year!

Achy Breaky doesn’t help your heart!

A new study released today has suggested that performing CPR to music does not help achieve the correct depth for chest compressions to be effective.

Not on your Nellie!

For years many of us in the UK have been taught to perform CPR in time to the tune of Nellie the Elephant as that had approximately 100 beats per minute.  In more recent years the Bee Gees track “Stayin ‘Alive” was also used as a training tool to help candidates practise compressions correctly.

However when the new Resuscitation Guidelines were launched in 2010 the rate and depth of compressions was increased to make CPR more effective. This rendered “Nellie the Elephant” and “Staying Alive” too slow!

New CPR Study

study published today in The Emergency Medicine Journal has investigated whether performing CPR to music improves compression rate and depth. This study used two tracks in particular; “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus and “Disco Science” from Mirwais.

The study concluded that whilst students typically maintained a satisfactory rate of compression, the depth of compression achieved was generally found to be too shallow to be effective. They commented that while using music to regulate CPR may be useful in encouraging people to commence CPR, there are in fact better ways to achieve these ends.  In particular, it may be preferable to provide feedback to those learning to perform CPR, in the form of a metronome or other audible feedback mechanisms.

Current (UK) guidelines recommend that effective CPR should be performed by compressing the chest to a depth of 5-6 cm at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.

CPR – What to do

The key thing to remember is that if someone is  unconscious and unresponsive and not breathing normally, to call 999 or 112 and  to commence CPR immediately by compressing the middle of the chest hard at about two  compressions per second.

The correct procedure is to give 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths (if you have been trained to give breaths) then a further 30 compressions. Keep going until help arrives.

If you’d like to learn more, you’re very welcome to come along to one of our range of regulated workplace first aid courses – CPR training is a key part of all of those courses.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The clocks have now gone back and winter is around the corner. Whilst the weather to date has been fairly mild we do not know how harsh winter will be. So before the weather turns really cold and you start using the heating and fires, service the boiler and check that chimneys and flues are clear.

Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It is not just gas appliances that can produce carbon monoxide, coal, wood, petrol and oil can also produce it too. Many may think that if you have a “living flame” gas fire you don’t need to sweep the chimney, this is not true. Those chimneys still need to be swept regularly to clear any blockages in order to prevent levels of carbon monoxide building up and causing low level poisoning.


Over 50 people die and more than 200 are admitted to hospital each year in the UK as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. A further 4000 a year suffer from low level effects of the gas. The All Party Gas Safety Parliamentary Group stated earlier this week, (as reported by the Daily Telegraph newspaper), that this is costing the NHS approximately £178 million a year, not including the human cost of loss of life.

Spotting Danger

Take a moment to look at your gas appliances:

  • The gas flame should be blue. If the flame is lazy yellow or orange your appliance may be faulty.
  • Does the pilot light keep blowing out?
  • Is there any dark staining around appliances?
  • Is there an increase in condensation inside windows?

Some deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning may be preventable if people take a little time to service their gas appliances.

Prevention Measures

Ensure your boilers and appliances are serviced yearly by Gas Safe registered engineers – the have a useful Gas Safe engineer finder on their website. Also, ensure that you have fitted an audible carbon monoxide detector and have checked that it is working. You are particularly vulnerable to poisoning whilst asleep.

Carbon Monoxide alarms are relatively inexpensive. Check that it conforms to the British Standard EN 50291 mark or BSEN 50291 mark. The alarm should also have a British or European Kitemark or other European testing approval mark. Most of us now have smoke alarms and consider them to be essential to our home safety, should we not also consider carbon monoxide alarms to be just as vital?

If you want to learn more about dealing with first aid emergencies, including CPR and other treatments, take a look at the first aid courses we have on offer.

Firework Fun on Bonfire Night

Just a quick reminder for any of you planning to have a bonfire party this weekend  5th November, to take extra care with fireworks.

Fireworks are hot, fast & fun

Did you know:

  • a sparkler reaches 2000°C? That is 20 times the boiling point of water!
  • Rockets can travel at up to 150 miles per hour!


Every year in the UK, approximately 1000 people are seriously injured by fireworks, many of them at parties held at home. Most injuries are to the hands and face which can require grafting and lengthy stays in hospital.

To avoid injury, one option is to go to an organised firework display.  However, if you are going to hold a bonfire party at home there are few basic things you should remember to do.  Above all, follow the firework code:

Firework Top Ten Safety Code for Adults

Young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers.

Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. They should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.

  1. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol if yuo are going to be setting off fireworks.
  3. Keep fireworks in an closed box.
  4. Follow the instructions on each firework.
  5. Light fireworks with a taper, keeping them at arm’s length.
  6. Stand well back.
  7. Never go near a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
  8. Never put fireworks in your pocket, or throw them.
  9. Always supervise children around fireworks.
  10. Light sparklers one at a time, and use gloves.
  11. Never give sparklers to a child under five years old
  12. Keep pets indoors
  13. Don’t let fireworks off after 11pm

First Aid Treatment of Firework Injuries

If you are accidentally injured by a firework the important thing is to cool the area immediately with cold water, and to keep cooling for a Minimum of 10 minutes. This takes the heat out of the wound and prevents further “cooking” of the skin.

Remove jewellery where possible and clothing if it hasn’t stuck.  Then wrap the area in clingfilm to keep it clean and protected and seek medical advice.

Lastly, Have Fun But Remember to BE SAFE, NOT SORRY

For Further Advice

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents  (RoSPA)have Safer Fireworks website with lots of useful information about firework safety

The UK Government also has a useful firework safety website, covering firework safety and the law.

First Aid training for minor burn injuries is covered in the Emergency First Aid training course syllabus, while the full 3-day First aid at Work training course covers burns in more detail.

Green first aid box showing selected kit contents

New First Aid Kit Announced

New First Aid Kit Announced

A new British Standard Workplace First aid Kit was launched under BS 8599 on 30th June 2011.

Of course under the Health & Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981, it is not mandatory to have a kit which complies with the BS 8599 standard. However this change should prompt your first aiders or appointed persons to review all of your kits. In particular, check that all of the contents are in-date, that nothing is missing, and that all of the items are suitable for your requirements.

Include First Aid Kits in your Risk Assessment

Make sure that you include your first aid kits in your should risk assessments. Things to consider are:

  • What level of kit do you need?
    Make sure you match this to your risk assessment, and to the types of activities carried out at each location.
  • How many should you have, and where should they be placed? Remember to consider each site, building and floor. Don't forget to include mobile workers and temporary locations too.

So make sure that all of your first aiders have access to either:

  • first aid kits whose contents comply with BS 8599, and match your needs assessment or
  • first aid kits whose contents match your needs assessment but does not comply with the requirements of BS 8599.

In each case, you should make sure that they're fully up to date and complete. It's a good idea to add an item to your list of annual health and safety tasks to check that they're fit for purpose.

For more details, take a look at our page giving details on recommended contents for first aid kits.

Finally, don't forget that your first aiders need regular training updates to renew their certificates and to refresh their skills between renewals. If you'd like more information on how we can help you with that, take a look at our workplace first aid courses.

Does Peeing on a Jellyfish sting take the pain away?

Last week the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) reported an increase in the number of Jellyfish inhabiting British waters including the barrel, moon, compass, blue and lion’s mane jellyfish.  None of these jellyfish has a lethal sting.

The MCS has asked members of the public to report sightings of these creatures as they give a good indication of the state of our seas.  The MCS urge the public to look but not touch as some of the jellyfish can sting, particularly the Lion’s Mane jellyfish which is swarming in huge numbers off the coast of the North West.

Jellyfish Soup

Currently the Irish Sea is described as a bit like “Jellyfish soup”, as the waters appear to be great grounds for them blooming. Other coastal areas have also been affected including the North West and North East. Indeed Scotland’s Torness power station was temporarily shut down a few weeks ago as swarms of the creatures blocked the water intake cooling systems.

Painful experience

If you are lucky enough to be holidaying near the sea then you may be unlucky enough to be stung by a jellyfish, which can be an intensely painful experience.  Popular rumour aided & abetted by episodes of “Friends” suggests you should pee on a jelly fish sting to neutralise the pain. But is there any truth in this or is it urban myth?

There is an element of truth in this rumour, but it really depends on how acidic your urine is. Acidity of urine is wholly dependent on your diet and most of us don’t produce urine that is acidic enough to neutralise the jelly fish sting. A better and less embarrassing option is to use vinegar. This deactivates the nematocysts (stinging cells) that may still be attached to the skin.

Treatment advice

If you are stung then the first aid advice is to:

  • Gently remove any tentacles that are still attached ideally by using gloves and tweezers.
  • Flood the area with vinegar, this deactivates the nematocysts (stinging cells) that may still be attached to the skin.
  • Do not rub the skin as this may cause the nematocysts to release more venom.
  • In the absence of vinegar pour more seawater over the area to help reduce the rash. Freshwater is not advised as it may cause more irritation.
  • Over the counter painkillers may be of some help in reducing the pain.
  • If breathing difficulties develop seek urgent medical help. If the inflammation does not seem to settle or the rash gets worse, seek medical help.

Useful information

To report jellyfish sightings follow this link: