It’s coming to that time of year again where everyone gathers round to get into the Christmas spirit getting all cosy, watching Christmas movies and sharing some delicious food and drinks. But during the colder weather comes hazards that apply to both your homes and your workplaces.
Take a moment to read our guide to having a safe Christmas.
Heating your home
Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from the hot embers. Always make sure the embers are under control and put out properly before going to bed. Keep all flammable decorations (including stockings) and cards away from open fire and other heat sources, such as light fittings.
Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.
If you use portable heaters, keep them away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always unplug heaters before you go to bed or go out.
If you use an electric blanket, always unplug it before you get into bed unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use. Look out for the British Standard Kitemark symbol which shows that the blanket meets the BSI standard for safety.
Wrapping up in lots of thinner layers works better than fewer thick layers as this creates more insulation. One thick jacket allows for air to get between the body and jacket resulting in the jacket becoming ineffective. This also makes adjusting to different temperatures easier as it is quicker to remove one or two layers than overheat.
Decorations can burn easily, so don’t attach them to lights or heaters. Never place garland or tinsel near candles and never place candles on trees.
Always check that your Christmas tree lights and any other lights you place around your home carry the British Safety Standard sign.
Slips and trips
With winter time comes the big drop in temperature and the dark nights coming earlier. This weather is very dangerous for the elderly, people with mobility issues, and people with sensory impairments. There are many issues to consider; lighting, wet and decaying leaves, rain, frost, ice and snow and gritting.
Many people leave their houses in the morning in the dark and don’t return until it is dark again, this makes the ground a lot more dangerous as black ice and wet slippery leaves are harder to notice. Where possible add extra security lighting or ensure the exterior of the building is well lit so that people can see clearly. If you know someone, however, who has a visual impairment, always ask if they need assistance when moving around outdoors in these conditions.
If you have guests staying with you over the Christmas period make sure the stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles. Keep clutter to a minimum and be aware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to try out new gadgets, toys and appliances. Trailing cables are a common cause of people tripping and injuring themselves.
It is fair to say one of the best parts of the Christmas season is the food. The turkey, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, homemade soup and all the yummy puddings. Give yourself time to prepare all this food – rushing about preparing the food increases the chance of spilling hot fats, boiling water or knife incidents.
With all this food comes lots of people wandering in and out of the kitchen. It is better to keep anyone not helping with the dinner out of the kitchen.
If you plan to have a live tree in your home, there are special precautions that need to be taken. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases in seconds. Ensure the base of the tree is watered to provide a good level of moisture content.
When selecting the tree, the needles should be fresh and hard to pull back from the branches. The needles should not break if it has been freshly cut. An old tree can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground if lots of the needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.
Keep the tree away from heat sources, including fireplaces and heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, making it easier to ignite by heat, flame or sparks.
When disposing of your tree, never put the tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree dries out, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is to take it to a recycling centre or have it collected by a community pickup service.
From everyone here at Robert Richards Associates Limited, we hope you have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!