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Christmas safety tips for the home

Melanie Whitehouse / 11 December 2018

With stress levels running high as Christmas approaches it's no wonder so many accidents happen. Find out what how to reduce the chance of accidents and injury during the Christmas period.

Christmas lights

Accidents often happen in the home at Christmas, when your house is full of friends and family of all ages, youngsters are excited and patience is tested.

A study of 2,000 people conducted by National Accident Helpline revealed that one in three women feel more stressed than usual during the festive period, with the pressure to cook and host the biggest pressures. Nearly half of those surveyed – 49% - said they'd had an accident preparing Christmas food, one in 40 had had an electric shock due to badly wired Christmas lights, and one in 50 had fallen out of the attic while getting the decorations down.

'Although many Christmas accidents are quickly shrugged off, more than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the festive period, according to the NHS,' says NAH.

So it pays to take precautions…

RoSPA, (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) has some top tips for preventing your Christmas being cut short by a trip to A&E.

1. Buy children's gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards, such as The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

2. Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them so you won't be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms.

3. Look out for small items that could cause young children to choke, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons.

4. Keep decorations and cards away from fires and light fittings.

5. Don't leave burning candles unattended, put them out before going to bed and do not put candles on Christmas trees.

6. Christmas decorations are not toys and do not have to comply with toy safety regulations, so place them high up on Christmas trees out of the reach of young hands.

7. Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knife accidents that come from rushing. Keep anyone not helping out of the kitchen. Wipe up spills quickly.

8. Have scissors handy to open packaging – don't use a knife - and have screwdrivers at the ready to assemble toys.

9. Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions.

10. Falls are the most common accidents, so keep clutter to a minimum. Make sure stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests.

Christmas lighting tips

RoSPA recommends replacing old Christmas lights with new ones, which have far higher safety standards (e.g. a British Standard kitemark), and prevent the risk of fire.

  • Avoid buying secondhand or in a market – you don't know what you're getting.
  • Keep lights switched off when inserting or removing bulbs.
  • Check cables for damage before switching on.
  • Read and follow the instructions.
  • Use an RCD (Residual Current Device), which gives added protection against electric shock.
  • Only use lights outdoors that are specifically made for the outside.
  • Don't run cables under carpets or anywhere they can be damaged or tripped over.
  • Keep lights clear of decorations and other flammable materials.
  • Keep lights switched off until the Christmas tree is decorated and don't let children play with them.
  • Always switch off lights when going out or going to bed.
  • Avoid storing your lights anywhere damp or excessively hot (like the attic in a hot summer).
  • Always unplug lights before watering the tree!
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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.