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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 18:27 GMT
When the festive season really hurts
Don't let Christmas end in misery
Exploding gravy, falls from rocking horses and tipsy party guests toppling downstairs are among the festive hazards listed by the UK's top safety organisation.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA, says "it's a blunderful life" at Christmas and has listed the accidents that lead to more than 80,000 people ending up at Accident and Emergency departments nationwide during the 12 days of Christmas.

Not content with issuing a stark warning about the dangers of breaking the photocopier's glass whilst duplicating your body parts at office parties, RoSPA has printed a list of typical Christmas day accidents.

Among the hazards are the predictable kitchen scalds from gravy exploding in microwaves or hot fat from the turkey or dicing your fingers along with the carrots.

Parents stabbing themselves with scissors which they have grabbed instead of screwdrivers to assemble toys, is also on the list.

Other risks listed include:

  • Children falling off rocking horses or smashing new bikes into walls
  • Tripping over toys and trailing cables in the rush to try out new computers and other appliances
  • Tipsy party guests toppling down stairs or crashing to the floor when they miss their seat at the dinner table
Other mishaps around Christmas time mean about 1,000 people go to hospital after accidents with Christmas trees, according to RoSPA.

Another 1,000 are injured by trimmings or when decorating their homes and 350 are hurt by Christmas tree lights - some people fall while putting them up, children swallow the bulbs and others get electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.

'No kill joys'

Janice Bisk, RoSPA's Northern Ireland manager said the organisation did not wish to be portrayed as kill joys, rather, they wanted to make people aware of the dangers.

"We do a lot of work with accident and emergency departments, at the coal face," she said.

"With children under five, choking is a big issue. About 90% of fatal choking accidents in that age group are due to food. At Christmas, everyone is busy, there are more people than usual in the house and there are bowls of nibbles about."

If a child chokes, sit down on a chair, put the child upside down across your knee and deliver a few sharp blows to the back, she said.

Mrs Bisk said fires were another real danger as people light coal fires and have candles in their homes. This, coupled with a greater alcohol intake than normal, can "take the edge" off people's awareness of the dangers, she said.

"RoSPA would encourage everyone to have a happy Christmas, not a tragic one, just be aware of the risks," she said.

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