There’s a popular Christmas novelty song, which goes:
Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
Walking home from our house Christmas Eve,
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.
She’d been drinking too much eggnog,
And we’d begged her not to go,
But she’d left her medication,
So she stumbled out the door into the snow.
Whilst we all know that Christmas can have its dangers (snogging under poisonous berries, anyone?), we don’t expect death-by-Rudolph to be one of them.
But truth is stranger than fiction:
Statistics from the late nineties show that in one year alone, four people were admitted to hospital having broken an arm in a cracker-pulling related incident. Statistics for another Christmas indicated that five people were injured by a rogue Scalextric car. Jumpers are dangerous, too. In 1998 there were 18 serious burns cases due to trying on new jumpers whilst holding a lit cigarette. Shirts are no better – in the same year 142 injuries were sustained when people tried on a new shirt without first removing the pins.
We know that drinking – whatever the time of year – always carries risk, but when people drink 41% more during December than the monthly average, they risk more than the usual injuries. Over the space of two years, 543 people were admitted to Accident and Emergency after attempting to open a beer bottle with their teeth. And in 1998, eight people sustained a skull fracture after cracking their head on a toilet whilst talking to God on the great white telephone.
It’s not all broken teeth, or cracker-elbow. Approximately three people die each year after testing a nine-volt battery on their tongue! Over the course of three Christmases there were 19 deaths that were caused by mistakenly ingesting a Christmas decoration. And since 1996, 31 people died after watering their tree whilst the fairy-lights were still plugged in.
Perhaps most unsurprisingly – for parents anyway – is that 101 people since 1997 have had parts of plastic toy removed from the sole of their foot.
Information distributed by doctors and nurses at Southampton General Hospital gives the five most common causes of accident and injury at Christmas time:
- Alcohol consumption, leading to fights, falls, and road traffic accidents.
- Toys, for example new bikes that are too big, causing children to fall and break bones.
- Christmas dinner, cuts and burns sustained during cooking and carving.
- Turkey, the elderly can be particularly at risk of choking.
- Running out of medication, people failing to account for the additional closures of GP surgeries, and pharmacies over the Christmas period.
They also indicated some more unusual injuries that the staff have seen:
- Zips on new jumpers causing injuries to eyelids.
- Injuries to the eye, and face, from putting or taking presents under the low branches of Christmas trees.
- Hand and arm injuries sustained from de-stoning avocados.
Some injuries can happen as the result of faulty goods, or services, and if this is the case you can access the Free Legal Advice Centre for help.