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Safety first this Christmas by Emma Hammett


Christmas can be magical, but can also prove stressful and a time when people forget about long term consequences, and do things they later regret. Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life gives us some tips on staying safe this Christmas.

According to ROSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), more than 80,000 people have to go to A&E and over 6,000 people are hospitalised after accidents occurring over the Christmas period.


Office parties can be wonderful, but with alcohol flowing, it is easy to lose all inhibitions and take risks.


Glasses are often broken during parties and one of the most common injuries result from barefooted ladies accidently dancing over broken glass – keep your shoes on and always clear up breakages immediately!


Family Christmases
The kitchen at Christmas can prove exceptionally hazardous, with hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives proving a recipe for disaster! Keep extra people (especially children) out of the kitchen. Avoid alcohol until after the cooking, and wipe up spills immediately. Ensure the turkey is well cooked.
If someone is burnt: the affected area should be immediately held under cool running water for at least 10 minutes, ideally longer. Buy proper sterile burns dressing prior to Christmas to be prepared. If you haven’t got burns dressing, the burn can be loosely covered with cling film after it has been cooled for at least 20 minutes.  Burns should always be seen by a medical professional. Never pop blisters or apply anything other than water or burn gel.


If someone is bleeding: Immediately apply pressure and elevate the affected area, sit the casualty down, or lie them down with legs raised if bleeding is severe. Do not remove anything embedded in a wound, apply pressure around it. Keep them calm and warm and get medical help.
Fairy lights and decorations

About 1,000 people a year are hurt while decorating their homes. Glass, fragile and novelty decorations that are not toys, should be out of reach of toddlers and pets. Old lights can cause fires and electrocution. Don’t balance on wobbly chairs, get out a ladder.


If someone falls from a height: Don’t panic; if they are conscious keep them still. If they are unconscious quickly check if they are breathing – if they are, they will need to be carefully log-rolled into a position so that their tongue will fall forward and vomit can drain out. If unconscious and not breathing you will need to start CPR. Someone who has had a head injury should be monitored for the next 48 hours, seek medical attention immediately if concerned.


Keeping children safe at Christmas

Small parts from toys or gadgets can easily become a choking hazard and the contents of Granny’s handbag could prove lethal!


Many decorative Christmas plants such as Mistletoe are poisonous; its berries contain toxins that slow the heart rate and cause hallucinations. The orange berries on the Christmas cherry cause stomach pains. The Christmas rose causes such violent diarrhoea, the ancient Greeks used it as a chemical weapon!


If you suspect a child has eaten something suspect, calmly establish what they have eaten and if anything has been swallowed. Encourage them to spit out anything obvious and remain still, as running around increases their metabolism. Call 111 and they will consult the poisons database and let you know what should be done. If the child has any change in behaviour, begins to vomit, become sleepy – phone an ambulance. If they lose consciousness – check they are breathing – if so, put them in the recovery position – if not start CPR.


Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. The combination of drink, relatives, lack of sleep and the burden of Christmas entertaining can prove too much! Try to create somewhere that people can escape for some peace. Excessive stress can trigger a heart attack.


If you suspect someone might be having a heart attack; calmly sit them on the floor in an upright position to help breathing, with their legs bent slightly to help circulation. If they have a GTN spray they should use it. Call an ambulance. If the GTN spray doesn’t help and they have been prescribed a 300mg aspirin this should be chewed. If they collapse and are unconscious, check for breathing and if not breathing start CPR immediately.


Never drink and drive and plan long journeys so you won’t be driving tired.

Prior preparation is vital to a successful celebration. Ensure there is an appropriately stocked first aid kit ready for emergencies and take an online or practical First Aid course now, to ensure that you have the skills to help if there is a medical emergency.

Plan ahead and have a very happy Christmas.




Emma Hammett

Emma Hammett is a qualified Nurse, First Aid Trainer and local Mum and has recently been Awarded a National Award as ‘Most Inspirational Trainer’. Emma trained and worked at St Thomas’ Hospital in the late 1980s and has since worked in both clinical and managerial capacities in many hospitals and specialties including ; Medicine at Hammersmith, Charing Cross and Queen Charlotte’s Hospitals, Paediatrics, Accident & Emergency, Acute Admissions, Medicine for the Elderly and the Burns Unit at Queen Mary’s Roehampton as well as Community nursing throughout South West London and has also worked as a Nurse at Wandsworth Prison. Emma is also an ESOL teacher and is therefore ideal to teach First Aid in a manner that is easily understood, to Nannies and Au Pairs from overseas,. As a parent herself, Emma fully understands the anxieties and responsibilities associated with looking after children. She is able to draw upon her experience and use real life examples to make her courses immediate and relevant. Emma is passionate about First Aid and ensuring that everyone attending her courses leaves feeling confident and competent that they now know what they should do in a medical emergency. Emma’s courses are relaxed, practical and fun – with lots of hands-on experience. All the above experience enabled Emma to establish First Aid for Life; finally fulfilling her passion and dream of empowering people to gain the skills and confidence to help in a medical emergency.

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