The 12 dangers of Christmas – how to avoid common festive accidents

The Mishaps and Mayhem of Christmas – how to avoid common festive accidents. Although Christmas can be a magical time of year, festive statistics from RoSPA and National Accident Helpline reveal it is a time when there are more accidents in the home for both humans and pets.

The 12 dangers of Christmas - how to avoid common festive accidents

Although Christmas can be a magical time of year, festive statistics from RoSPA and National Accident Helpline reveal it is a time when there are more accidents in the home for both humans and pets.

Over-excited children, new pets and a constant stream of friends and relatives can pose potential hazards and add to the overwhelm.

Factor in additional seasonal stresses and excesses, tiredness, travelling and rushing to get everything done and you understand how people fall foul of the festive season.

Did you know:

1 in 50 people have fallen out of the loft while getting decorations down.

8% of those aged 16-24 have ended up in A&E during the festive season.

700,000 people have been injured in a sale rush when shopping.

People are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of the year.

2.6 million people have fallen off a stool or ladder while hanging up decorations.

Each year about 1,000 people are injured by their Christmas tree, usually while fixing decorations to the higher branches.

More than 1 in 40 people have suffered an electric shock due to badly wired Christmas lights.

Between 1997 and 2010, 26 people died in the UK from watering their Christmas tree with the lights on.

600,000 people have burned themselves roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

49% of those preparing Christmas food have suffered an accident: 1 in 10 have spilled hot fat on themselves when cooking

Nearly 1 in 5 have cut themselves preparing vegetables

More than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the festive period, according to the NHS.  With 6,000 of these needing to be admitted.

And the 400,000 burnt Christmas turkeys tell their very own stressful stories of Christmas chaos.

Happily, we have put together a guide of common accidents that occur so you can avoid becoming a Christmas statistic. Follow our top tips to keep you and your family free from festive mishaps and mayhem.



– Kitchen

Hot food, boiling water and sharp knives can make the kitchen particularly hazardous. Try to keep everyone other than the cook, especially pets and children, out of the kitchen. One in ten children’s accidents happen in the kitchen.

Refrain from drinking alcohol until the cooking is finished and wipe up any spills as soon as they happen so people do not slip.

– Stairs

Alcohol, tiredness and excited children make the stairs an accident hotspot during Christmas. Make sure stairs are free from clutter.

If you have guests staying who may be unfamiliar with the layout of the house and could fall down the stairs whilst going to the toilet at night, leave a light on. If you are a guest over Christmas think about taking portable stair gates for your children.

– Toys

Many injuries occur on Christmas day with people battling to open difficult packaging as quickly as possible, using makeshift tools. When opening presents ensure you have necessary scissors and screwdrivers.



Fairy lights and decorations

Overloading sockets it can lead to overheating and electrical fires. Avoid cables being a tripping hazard. Buy a cable guard so your pet can’t chew through the wires, cats, dogs and rabbits will all attempt this.

Do test your lights and the wiring before you put them up. If necessary, buy new ones that meet higher safety standards, look for BS Kitemark.

Do switch off any electrical decorations at night and make sure your guests also know how to do so.



– Festive flames and fires

People are 50% more likely to die in a house fire than at any other time of the year.

Do keep any Christmas cards, paper decorations and the Christmas tree away from heat sources such as candles, fires or heaters, as they can catch alight and burn easily

Do check that your smoke alarms are working, so there’s time to get out if a fire does start. Stock up on AA batteries before Christmas so if you need batteries for a new toy or the TV remote control you wont take them from the smoke alarm,

Do put tea lights should be an appropriate container to prevent burning through baths and televisions. Blow out candles before heading to bed.

Do get your chimney swept if you are planning on having a festive open fire.


– Button batteries

Button batteries are corrosive and burn the inside of intestines, causing major internal bleeding.

If a battery is missing and you think it possible a child has swallowed it, take them to A&E immediately for an x-ray as lithium batteries can kill within hours.

Be aware that whilst batteries in children’s products are covered by safety regulations and are required to have a screwed-down cover, many Christmas novelty items such as flashing Santa hats or musical cards are not.



 – Alcohol

Alcohol reduces one’s risk awareness. Accidents are more likely to happen in the kitchen and the home if you have overdone the alcohol. Space drinks out with non-alcoholic ones.

At the end of the day make sure any residual alcohol is emptied out of glasses so if children get up early in the morning, they can’t drink the remains.

 – Food poisoning

Food poisoning is always a worry at Christmas – the NHS website even offers guidelines to cooking turkey safely.

Never risk taking short cuts when cooking turkey. It takes hours to cook the bird properly. Undercooked turkey can cause salmonella poisoning, which can be life-threatening especially for those who are very young, old or frail.

 – Medicine poisoning

Medicines are the most common cause of accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit. The contents of Granny’s handbag could prove lethal. Gently remind visitors to keep all medication secure and out of sight and reach, not left in an open handbag or counted out on a bedside table.

 – Christmas plants

The berries from the Holly, mistletoe, Christmas Cherry and Christmas Rose are poisonous to children. Just 20 berries from the Holly could kill a child if ingested. Amaryllis and ferns are also toxic to cats and dogs. Do check with your florist or garden centre whether the plants you’re buying are toxic.

 – Silica gel

Silica gel is toxic to humans and pets. It comes in small sachets and is used to keep moisture out of electrical equipment, clothes, bags or toys. The sachets are small and easily missed so be aware to look out for them.


Glass and fragile decorations should be out of reach of toddlers and pets. Novelty decorations may look like toys but do not have to comply with toy safety standards and may be dangerous. Keep them out of the reach of children.

Always buy age appropriate toys for your little ones so there are no small parts that could be a choking hazard. Be aware that small parts from gadgets, novelties from crackers or even burst balloons can easily become choking hazards.

Peaceful pets

The commotion of Christmas can be extremely stressful for your pet. Reduce their festive stress by maintaining consistent routines to increase their sense of security. Offer a cosy retreat, away from the noise and excitement, so your pet can have some peace and quiet.

Children can be overpowering, wanting to stroke and pester them so be aware when your pet needs a break. Remind guests not to feed your pets any scraps. Many Christmas treat such as chocolate, Christmas pudding and mince pies, blue cheese, Macadamia nuts, grapes and chocolate covered raisins are poisonous to your dog.

 – Walkies

Make sure your dog enjoys long walks to ensure they are tired to stop any bored or disruptive behaviour. The same applies to humans too!


Written by Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life

Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs.

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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