6 Tips For Keeping You And Your Family Safe This Christmas


The Law Of… Keeping Safe Over Christmas

The festive period is well and truly underway as families everywhere prepare for one of the busiest times of the year. With Christmas round the corner, it's easy to become complacent around safety issues in and around the home.

Personal Injury specialist, Katrina McGuire provides some top tips for keeping you and your family safe this Christmas.
Safety at Christmas

1.    Avoid A Slip, Trip And Fall: Last Minute Shopping

Until Black Friday came along, the busiest shopping day of the year was Boxing Day. But shops have turned bargain hunting on its head and now begin sales before Christmas. As a result, it's very easy to find yourself shopping at one of the busiest times of the year.

Slips, trips and falls are surprisingly common in retail environments and it's important to protect you and your family from the dangers. If you see anything you think could be a hazard to you or fellow shoppers, ensure that you report it to a member of staff.

If you have suffered an accident whilst shopping:

  • Get the medical help you need
  • Ensure the accident is logged
  • Take photos

For more information, follow our comprehensive guide on staying safe whilst shopping.

2.    Avoid A Nasty Accident: On The Road

With all the celebrations going on throughout December, it's easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget about key safety issues on the road. A typical English winter will usually see adverse weather conditions, making driving more dangerous than usual. You should check the forecast and prepare for the weather predicted. If there are weather warnings, try to avoid driving and choose another mode of transport or stay in and enjoy the warmth.

Christmas often sees a rise in parties and drinking leading to a rise in drunk driving offences. Do not be fooled by the notion that a night's sleep will sober you up enough to safely drive the next day. Make sure you eat and rest until you are truly under the drink-drive limit, keeping you and everyone else on the road safe.

3.    Avoid A Fire: Christmas Decorations

Whether you decide to go for an artificial or real Christmas tree, your choice of decorations needs to be considered carefully. If you have incandescent lights that are over 6 years old, it may be worth looking to replace them as they can pose a fire hazard. LED lights have a longer shelf life but you should consider replacing them every 10 years. If your fairy lights show any signs of damage, you should replace them immediately.

Signs of damage could include:

  • Wobbly bulbs
  • Bare areas on the wire
  • Blown fuses

In 2014, 20 fires were caused by fairy lights. Ensure you keep you and your property safe by heeding the advice from the UK Fire Service.

The UK Fire Service suggest you:

  • Don't leave fairy lights on when you go out or when you go to sleep
  • Replace blown bulbs
  • Don't let bulbs touch anything that can burn easily, like paper or cardboard
  • Don't overload sockets
  • Do not water your tree with fairy lights plugged in

You should also be very careful putting up your decorations in order to avoid a slip, trip or fall. In 2014, 1,000 people were injured whilst decorating their home with the most common injury being a fall from an unstable chair or out of the loft. Make sure to use the right ladders for the job and get someone to help you when putting up decorations at height.

4.    Avoid Food Poisoning: Christmas Dinner

When it comes to Christmas dinner, avoiding food poisoning is paramount. If you have decided on turkey for the meat of the meal, it is important that turkey is cooked through thoroughly. The NHS provide some guidance on how to cook your turkey.

They recommend that you:

  • Make sure the turkey is properly defrosted before cooking
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with any raw parts of the turkey
  • Check the packaging for defrosting times
  • Do not use the same chopping board for pre-cooked meat and ready-to-eat food
  • Plan your cooking time in advance
  • Check the turkey's label for guidelines on how long to cook it for

With such a large amount of meat, it can be difficult to know when the turkey has finished cooking.

You can tell if a turkey is cooked through by checking that:

  • The meat is steaming hot all the way through
  • There's no pink meat when you cut into the thickest part of the bird
  • The juices run clear when you pierce the turkey or press the thigh
  • If you're using a temperature probe, ensure the thickest part of the bird reaches at least 70C for 2 minutes

5.    Avoid Safety Issues: The Perfect Christmas Gift

Buying the perfect gift can be difficult but when buying for a young child. There are some safety guidelines that must be adhered to, to ensure presents are safe.

You should consider the following when buying for a child:

  • Buy toys from recognised outlets
  • Check the age range
  • Be particularly careful with presents for children under 3
  • Check for loose and small parts, sharp edges and points
  • Follow warnings provided by toys

If after you have bought the present, it is listed on a recall list, it is important to remove the toy from the child and follow guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

You should also be wary during your Christmas Day clean-up to keep any small parts from crackers or gifts from young children as these could pose a choking hazard. Ideally, check when buying crackers that they are age appropriate. 

6.    Avoid Loneliness: Take Care Of Each Other

Whilst for the most part Christmas is a happy time, for some, this time of year is particularly difficult. Calls to domestic abuse charities fall over the Christmas period, but the amount of calls to the police from victims rises.

If you are aware of a loved one suffering from domestic abuse, you can support them in ways that may help them get through the festive period. Our guide on supporting loved ones who are victims of domestic violence provides some helpful tips.

Christmas can also be a difficult time for anyone suffering with depression or anxiety. It's important to remember that you are not alone. There are many charities that work throughout the festive period that can provide guidance over the phone 365 days a year.

The following charities can provide support to those struggling over Christmas and New Year:

Katerina comments:

"It's so easy to forget basic health and safety guidance when you're rushing round preparing for the festive season."

"It's important to have taken stock of your Christmas decorations and consider whether it's time to reinvest. There are so many extra fire safety hazards to consider at Christmas and decorations are a good place to start."

"Make sure you support those who are having a difficult time over the festive period and check in with anyone you think might have feelings of loneliness."

For any legal advice based on any of the topics covered in this article, please call our free helpline today.

Simpson Millar wishes all their clients a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

News Archive

Get In Touch