It’s worth mentioning again that 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. And remember, people, if your grandfather is on fire, do not try and put him out by throwing whisky on him.
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. In 2009, 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 in 2009 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 in 2009 in accidents involving out-of-control Scalextric cars (electrical model racing 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.
* Christmas crackers 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.
Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .An Unsafe Pair of Hands – a quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?