Spend Christmas at Home, Not in Hospital
T’is the season to be accident aware. Yes you read that correctly! Winter is the UK’s most accident prone time of the year. Never mind all the flu’s, bugs and nasty colds that are making their way from nose to nose, we’re talking about the real accidents during the Christmas period.
So before you get down the dusty Christmas decorations from the attic and haul the Christmas tree from the nearest supermarket, have a little sit down and a read our list of most common accidents during the winter months. Don’t forget the mulled wine!
Ice and snow are drivers’ biggest fear when it comes to driving home for Christmas. Despite our unpredictable British weather snow, sleet and ice remain the most unnerving weather conditions to drive in.
Skidding represented 48% of winter car accidents in 2012, although we don’t want to say it is completely preventable but doing something as simple as changing your car tyres to winter tyres could lower your risk of skidding during the winter months (Source: Department of Transport 2003).
One of the most common injuries that have resulted from a road traffic accident (RTA) is whiplash, especially in a car or truck. Symptoms involved in Whiplash are:
- Neck Pain
- Shoulders/Upper Back
Luckily our RTA team at Whatsmyclaimworth.com are experts at Whiplash claims, we recently recovered almost £2,000 for our client who suffered whiplash injuries!
The Department of Transport do an incredible job at recording data about our British roads, including road accidents involving snowy and icy road surfaces. According to their 2012 report:
- 544 were seriously injured
- 4,584 were slightly injured
We’ve all chuckled at news reporters falling over and slipping on ice surfaces during a live report, but they are not the only ones ending up with bruises and broken ankles this Christmas.
In 2012/2013 there were a total of 7,031 hospital admissions from people falling over on ice or snow on pavements, footpaths, driveways and other public areas.
Like any other injury and accident, there are tips to prevent getting hurt:
- Wear sturdy footwear, with a good grip – you can always change into other footwear when you have reached your destination
- If you’ve got Nordic walking poles (or similar), use them
- Take it slowly and allow yourself extra time to get from A to B, so you don’t find yourself having to make a last minute dash to get to the bus etc.
- Keep an eye on what is underfoot. Some places will remain icy for longer than others (e.g. places that do not get the sun)
- If you have neighbours who are elderly/disabled/new mums etc. offer to pop to the shops for them
- If councils have provided grit bins so people can treat public areas not included on the usual gritter route, use them – but don’t remove vast quantities for your own personal use.
As RoSPA quite rightly points out, falling over on the ice isn’t a laughing matter for our elderly residents. If you have grandparents who like to venture out during the winter months, please consider RoSPA’s advice below to help them explore safely:
- Try to minimise the need to go out. Ask friends or neighbours to shop for you or take you to where you need to go
- If you do decide to go out when there’s snow and ice about, take time to think what you can do to reduce the risk of a fall
- Where possible, plan a safe route from your home to where you are going, so as to avoid slopes, steps and areas that have not been cleared or gritted
- Don’t take short cuts through areas where the slipping hazards are greater
- Ask a friend or neighbour to clear a safe path from your front door
- Wear proper footwear for better traction on slippery surfaces. Consider fitting anti-slip crampons
- Consider using a stick or better still, a walking pole and take slow, small steps. Try not to hurry and give yourself more time to get from A to B so you do not rush
- Use rails or other stable objects that you can hold on to
- If possible, wear extra layers to protect the more vulnerable parts of your body like your head, neck and spine if you do fall
- Wipe your feet well when entering buildings
- In public places, always report unsafe conditions so other people do not get hurt
Swimming or diving in minus 10 degrees Celsius water isn’t for the faint hearted. There are professionals that do this and can are at times considered as completely bonkers. But well done to them, rather you than me.
For others however, especially children, falling into freezing cold water is fatal. RoSPA recorded 20 frozen water deaths over recent years. They found that the victim would have been attempting to save a dog or another person.
Another factor could have been due to ice-skating on thin ice such as lakes or small ponds. We would recommend going to your local leisure centre for some fun and safe family time ice-skating!
Fire is one of the biggest causes of injuries in the home during the Christmas season.
We Brits love our smelly Apple and Cinnamon scented candles burning away in the living room on Christmas Eve. Getting into the Christmas spirit always starts with a house full of candles whilst putting up the Christmas tree, sipping on hot mulled wine and listening to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”….but suddenly there’s a bad smell in the air…
Candles were the cause of over 1000 UK house fires, 9 deaths and 388 casualties in 2011/2012. The London Fire Brigade recently reported that candle blazes increased by 38% this year alone, with an average of 21 candle fires per month between February and October.
Unsurprisingly, candle fires have increased to 29 per month between November and January with many of us using tea lights as part of our Christmas decoration. Not only do candles cause unwanted fires, but faulty fairy lights have resulted in 20 fires in 2011/2012 (source).
Despite their lovely scents, many forget to blow out the candles before heading to bed. Not only that, but placing a candle near a Christmas tree is beyond fatal. Natural and dried-out Christmas trees are highly flammable and can take less than 10 seconds to become engulfed in flames and less than 1 minute to destroy an entire living room (see video below).
Christmas trees were the source of 47 house fires and 20 non-fatal injuries in 2012. An average of 1000 people were injured by Christmas Trees, this could have been caused by any of the following:
- Fixing decorations on unstable chairs
- Electric shocks
- Children swallowing bulbs
- Faulty light burns
Like any other tree in the woods, Christmas trees drink plenty of water to stay alive. The best safety tip we can give you is to make sure you pop your tree in a stand filled with water and away from any heat source. Alternatively you could always invest in a non-flammable artificial tree, that’ll save the morning brush-ups of needles too!
- Since 1996, 31 people have died from watering their Christmas tree with the lights plugged in
- 1 in 10 people burn themselves while setting fire to Christmas pudding
- 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights
- 1,000 people a year are hurt when decorating their homes
- 30 people die from food poisoning each Christmas
- People are 50% more likely to be in a house fire at Christmas than at any other time of the year
The Northamptonshire Council has put together this brilliant little video about what not to do this winter. Does any of this look familiar to you?
We’d like to end our piece by first saluting all the doctors, nurses, paramedics and all other hospital staff as they will be running off their feet throughout the Christmas period.
They are everyone’s guardian angels throughout the year but particularly in the festive season when so many of us spend it with family and friends, drinking and eating until our heart’s content, whilst these heroes save thousands of lives day in and day out.
We salute you Hospital Heroes!
The twelve days of Christmas not only consists of a partridge in a pear tree but also a whopping 80,000 Accident and Emergency hospital admissions! Especially on Christmas day which sees an unbelievable 6,000 casualties end up in hospital.
So there we are. You are now ready to enjoy and celebrate Christmas with great awareness of your surroundings. However, if you do find yourself involved in an accident or injury that wasn’t your fault, try our Claimometer today or call 0800 025 0000 to speak to one of our solicitors.