What NOT to do this Christmas

Christmas is one of the most dangerous times of the year. Traditionally it’s a time for family, alcohol and open fires, and if you bring all three into close proximity, then sparks tend to fly. It’s a peak time for divorce and a peak time for calling the emergency services. In the US alone, hospital ERs treat 12,500 people for Christmas related injuries. Candles cause 150 deaths, Christmas trees a mere ten.

Here’s the UK’s top thirteen Christmas injuries (please memorise and avoid):

1. 31 Brits have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the Christmas tree lights were plugged in.

2. In the last ten years, 27 have died testing batteries on their tongue.

3. 19 Brits have died in the last three years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. (they’re not? – ed)

4. Last year 52 children were admitted to hospital after swallowing the contents of perfume or cologne bottles.

5. In 2007, twelve people sustained serious burns when trying on a new sweater with a lit cigarette in their mouth. In 2000, it was even higher – eighteen.

6. Again in 2000, eight Brits cracked their skull in porcelain related incidents involving toilets and throwing up.

7. Every year hundreds of people fall off ladders and break bones while hanging Christmas decorations.

8. Every year at least three people are reported with broken arms due to pulling Christmas crackers.

9. 543 Brits were admitted to hospital in the last two years over the holiday season after opening bottles of beer with their teeth.

10. 101 people since 1999 have had broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.

11. Five People suffered third degree burns last year when trying to flame torch their Christmas pudding.

12. Over 200 people were admitted to hospital after not removing all the pins from new shirts.

13. And, finally, five Brits were injured last year in accidents involving out-of-control Scalextric cars.

And don’t forget the humble biscuit (aka the cookie). Biscuit related injuries made the news last year when a report was published in the Daily Telegraph.

The report claimed that each year 500 British workers were taken to hospital with biscuit related injuries. Injuries ranged from poking themselves in the eye with a biscuit (3%) to the bizarre case of a man who was trapped in wet concrete when wading in to reach a stray biscuit (0.01%).

Scalding was the number one reason for injury (33%). How can you scald yourself with a biscuit? Dunking, of course. I’m not sure if dunking is practised outside of the UK, but we Brits love to dunk. We know the danger, but all biscuits taste better when dipped in hot tea or coffee. The trick is to dunk quickly and eat the biscuit before it loses cohesion and breaks up. But it’s a tricky manoeuvre, and the temptation to reach in and scoop out the errant pierce of soggy biscuit before it sinks to the bottom is great. Scalding is a small price to pay.

Choking on crumbs account for 28% of emergencies. Broken teeth and fillings, 10%.

7% claim to have been bitten by a pet or ‘other wild animal’ whilst trying to get their biscuit. Falling off a chair while over reaching for the biscuit tin gets a mention. As does the woman who used a knife to try to remove a Smartie (M&M) from a gingerbread biscuit and stabbed herself in the hand.

One council was so moved by the report, that they instituted supervised tea breaks for safety reasons, employing an authorised biscuit warden to ensure employees handled their biscuits with due care.

Be careful, people. It’s dangerous out there.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novel – Resonance (Baen) – can be downloaded for free here. More information about his other work can be found on his  BVC bookshelf 

Recently released from Book View Press: French Fried true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.

International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a  glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth. Forget  Bruce Willis and his team of miners. Send for the kitties!

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What NOT to do this Christmas — 14 Comments

  1. To be fair, (3) is probably more an indictment of British cuisine than Christmas. That would also explain the “cookie” incidents, particularly if said biscuits looked halfway edible.

    ::rimshot:: Thank you thank you, I’ll be here all week.

  2. In defence of British cuisine, the country that brought the world ‘The Pudding,’ much of (3) is down to confectioners bringing out chocolates that look like Christmas Tree decorations. They’re even intended to be hung on the tree.

    Of course, they are meant to be unwrapped first but … if you’re struck with chocolate fever, what else can you do?

  3. This is evidently an aggressive move by the Germans, who have a long tradition of chocolates wrapped in decorative foil and hung on Christmas trees. First they soften up the populace with deadly ornaments, then the beach landing.

  4. Christmas in Estonia is worse.

    First we have the Western Christmas at Dec 24th, with all the pomp and sales pitches and our share of overeating, drunk drivers, and forgotten candles. Then, as a proper post-Soviet country, we have the New Year (the Soviet replasement for Bad Religious Winter Holiday): overeating, drunk drivers, and forgotten candles combined with fireworks. To top it off, for a good third of our population, there’s the Eastern Orthodox Christmas at Jan 6th: more overeating, drunk drivers, and forgotten candles, and a good measure of the Russian Spirit (drink a lot, get sentimental, beat up a friend or two). And all the while it’s snowstorms out there, toppling electric lines and piling up traffic.

    Oh well, our Great National Holiday is Midsummer. Then, we drink, drive, make huge bonfires, sail, and swim. At least we can’t sail or swim at Christmas.

    The worst I experienced was one cold Christmas Eve when everyone plugged in their TVs, Christmas lights, heaters, radios, whatevers . . . our trusty old apartment house had wiring from 1938. All and any electricity left us without warning. We had a nice candlelit party but the guy who spent that Christmas Eve in our elevator between the 3rd and 4th floor was, um . . . enlightening but not suitable for minors.

  5. 8) Injured while “pulling Christmas crackers”? What on earth does that mean? I guess a cracker is something different in British slang than in American? (I hear cracker and think small crunchy/crispy savory snack item.)

  6. Christmas crackers are a ‘must’ for a British Christmas. They are small present-filled cardboard tubes wrapped in coloured paper with a twist at each end. And a strip of ‘explosive’ tape running through it. Two people pull on each end of the cracker, the strip breaks and ‘explodes’ with a crack, and all the presents (a paper hat, a cheap toy and an appalling joke) fall out.

    Crackers are pulled just before the Christmas dinner, so everyone gets to wear a paper hat.

    Arms are broken by pulling too hard or someone letting go.

  7. While you’re at it, you might define “Scalextric cars”. They are not available in the US.

  8. Scalextric make model electric racing cars that run on plastic track with metal slots. I used to have as much fun designing and building the track as I did racing the cars.

    Because the cars are fast and there are a lot of bends, you spend as much time picking your car up and putting it back on the track as you do racing. Fast cars and tight bends also means ‘flying cars heading straight for unsuspecting child at great speed.’

  9. Pingback: Tinsel and Biscuits « Longfellow's 21st Century Lunch