Life Home Festive fails: Better safe than sorry with Christmas antics

Festive fails: Better safe than sorry with Christmas antics

People should think twice about their actions if they want to avoid taking this route. Photo: Getty
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You flame brandy over a pudding once a year, so what makes you think it’s a grand idea to juggle fire and matches after several champagne cocktails?

And the last time you rode a bike was before high school, so please explain why you are attempting a wheelie in thongs after several hours of hooking into the Christmas spirits.

As the portly chap in the flammable red suit prepares for his annual squeeze down the exhaust extractor (Santa is the father of Christmas trauma follies), take action to ensure you head into 2019 intact.

“The big injuries over Christmas in Australia feature dads who buy skateboards or scooters for the kids and then break their wrists or other bones demonstrating them,” says Dr Simon Young, a GP in Blacktown in Sydney’s west.

“And doctors see lots of sunburn on Boxing Day.” (Many of Sydney’s December 26 lobsters hail from the British Isles and Bondi Beach is usually the scene of the sizzling.)

The newly published US study Prevalence of Christmas-related injuries 2007–2016 weaves in humour – “despite inherent dangers associated with his work, Santa Claus appears to be safe and is not responsible for Christmas-related injuries” – but concludes “injuries in relation to Christmas should not be taken lightly”.

One of the study’s authors Dr Romy Lauche is a visiting fellow at UTS in Sydney and research director at the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Sozialstiftung Bamberg, Germany.

“The big problem occurs when activities are conducted under the influence of alcohol, which there is plenty of during the festive season,” Dr Lauche tells The New Daily.

“Then many activities, even something unspectacular like going swimming at the beach, can become dangerous very easily.”

Some risks are unique to an Antipodean Christmas: A 2011 WA case series into propellor and jet-ski injuries found that over the 10-day Christmas-New Year period, “five patients presented to the level-one trauma centre … all required surgery, and all but one sustained multiple, severe injuries”. The clinical records are gruesome.

Christmas lights are a global menace, brought eye-wateringly to life by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and more recently by ABC-TV’s Upper Middle Bogan’s Christmas lights episode. A decade-long Canadian study found that falls while installing Christmas lights at home “can result in severe life-altering injuries with considerable morbidity and mortality”. Sobering statistics back up that assertion.

Kids of all ages should exercise care when decorating Christmas trees. Photo: AFP/Getty

On Christmas Eve keep a tight rein, dear, on over-excited kids while out viewing suburban street light show(-off)s. And at home remember that those fetchingly bright little bulbs and snowflake surrounds are just begging for little fingers to push them down tiny throats.

Toys that come in on the sleigh from around the world may be unsafe, or safe for an eight-year-old but potentially lethal for an eight-month-old.

“Button batteries are the devil,” Dr Young said.

“The narrowest part of the whole intestinal tract in kids is the oesophagus; if they get caught and left, they burn through and make a mess…”

Advises Dr Lauche: “Parents should pick wisely when it comes to Christmas presents. Many of the injuries we’ve seen can be prevented if people are cautious, as they are during the rest of the year.”

Kidsafe Victoria’s excellent safe toys list includes common injuries: “looking at toy, pulled trigger, hit in eye”, “fell over, sharp part of toy went through roof of mouth”, “tried to jump on moving three-wheel bike, landed on cross bar”.

The Victorian Government preemptively pulled more than 10,000 “dangerous objects” from shelves before Santa’s arrival.

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