First Aid for Life’s Emma Hammett offers her tips on keeping your family safe amid the celebrations
Christmas parties area great excuse to celebrate but with the alcohol flowing, it is easy to take risks, forget about long-term consequences and do things you regret. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 80,000 people have to go to A&E and more than 6,000 people are hospitalised due to accidents over Christmas.
Here are a few things to look out for to help you ensure you and your nearest and dearest have a happy and safe festive season.
The kitchen at Christmas can prove exceptionally hazardous; hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives are a recipe for disaster. Keep extra people, especially children, out of the kitchen. Avoid alcohol until after the cooking, and wipe up spills immediately. Ensure the turkey is cooked through.
If someone is burnt, the affected area should be held under cool running water for at least 10 minutes, ideally longer. Buy proper sterile burn dressings prior to Christmas to be prepared. If you haven’t got special dressings, the burn can be loosely covered with cling film after it has been cooled for at least 20 minutes. Burns should always be seen by a medical professional. Never pop blisters or apply anything other than water or burn gel.
If someone is bleeding, immediately apply pressure and elevate the affected area. Sit the casualty down or lie them down with their legs raised if the bleeding is severe. Do not remove anything that is embedded in a wound, instead apply pressure around the bleeding area. Try to keep the casualty calm and warm, and get medical assistance.
Around 1,000 people a year are hurt while decorating their homes. Old lights can cause fires and electrocution. Don’t balance on wobbly chairs, get out a ladder.
Keeping children safe at Christmas
Novelty decorations are not safety tested as toys and should be out of reach of toddlers and pets. Small parts from toys or gadgets can easily become a choking hazard. Be very careful of button batteries because these will corrode and burn a child’s intestine if swallowed, and can kill.
Many decorative Christmas plants, such as mistletoe, are poisonous. Mistletoe berries contain toxins that slow the heart rate and cause hallucinations. The orange berries on the Christmas cherry cause stomach pains, while the Christmas rose causes such violent diarrhoea that the ancient Greeks used it as
a chemical weapon.
If you suspect a child has eaten something suspect, calmly establish what, if anything, has been swallowed. Encourage the child to spit out anything obvious and remain still, as running around increases their metabolism. Call 111. They will consult the poisons database and let you know what should be done. If the child has any change in behaviour, begins to vomit or becomes sleepy, phone an ambulance. If they lose consciousness, check they are breathing. If so, put them in the recovery position. If not, start CPR. Get medical help immediately.
Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. The combination of drink, relatives, lack of sleep and the burden of entertaining can prove too much for some. Try to create somewhere that people can escape for some peace and quiet. Excessive stress can trigger
a heart attack.
If you suspect that someone might be having a heart attack, calmly sit them on the floor in an upright position to help breathing and with their legs bent slightly to help circulation. If they have a GTN spray, they should use it. Call an ambulance. If the GTN spray does not help and they have been prescribed a 300mg aspirin, this should be chewed. If they collapse and are unconscious, check for breathing. If the casualty is not breathing, start CPR immediately.
Never drink and drive, and plan long journeys so you won’t be driving tired.