Christmas and New Year period is a time for unexpected injuries, according to consumer watchdog Choice.
The warning to be “vigilant” over the festive season comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission urged parents to check the presents they’re giving and receiving haven’t been recalled or banned, are age-appropriate, and don’t pose a choking hazard to young children.
The ACCC said more than 4.5 million items were recalled by suppliers in the 2017-18 financial year and faulty products continue to cause serious injury and harm to thousands of Australians every year.
“If you’re rushing with last-minute Christmas shopping, take time to check that gifts for little ones are age appropriate and don’t pose choking hazards,” it warned.
“Be sure to read any warning labels and follow all safety instructions.”
Judging by data compiled by the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, hundreds of Australians will be cutting themselves opening presents with knives, electrocuting themselves with fairy lights, getting poked in the eye with pine branches, and “hurting themselves in other holiday-themed accidents”.
Choice said by far the greatest number of injuries were fall-related, accounting for 41 per cent of injuries over the holidays, while the next highest category, “cutting/piercing injuries”, accounted for 8 per cent.
“We fall over at parties, off skateboards and on slip ‘n slides, high on bubbles and a change of pace,” it said.
Emergency wards also attended to an increased number of elderly people, who after a long period of inactivity, “collapse at family get-togethers from exhaustion, dehydration and over-excitement”, emergency nurse Lucy Osborn was quoted as saying.
Ms Osborn said a spike in people turning up at emergency rooms on Christmas Day was partly due to the fact “there are, literally, a lot more objects around – there’s a lot more for parents to keep their eyes on, a lot more shiny new things for kids to get their hands on”.
Although many people would refrain from handing a small child a toy with small parts in case they swallow them, there are countless potential dangers that wouldn’t necessarily register until too late – and the items that kids are drawn to aren’t limited to toys, Choice said.
Among the ACCC’s tips to stay safe these holidays are:
- Read warning labels and follow the safety instructions on products
- Check products in the home to ensure button batteries aren’t easily accessible
- Don’t put heavy items on top of shelves and, ideally, anchor furniture to walls
- Supervise children in pools, including when they have flotation devices
- Supervise children in portable pools, then empty and store them
- Check that your pool gate and latches are locking properly
- Check the condition of trampolines and supervise children playing on them
- Wear a life jacket when kayaking, water skiing, fishing in a boat or engaging in other activities on the water.