It may well be the season to be jolly but actually Christmas and New Years come armed with plenty of dangers. Believe it or not, cold weather is responsible for the death rate increasing 20% from December to March.
The seasonal culprits include:
· Traffic accidents
· Cold weather and flu
· Food poisoning
· Accidents around the home
· Alcohol-related accidents
Let’s look at these dangers in more detail, and more importantly, ways to avoid them.
1. Traffic Accidents
There are more people on the roads during the holiday season caused by increased shopping trips and more people on the road journeying to see relatives. Add an increase of drunk drivers, icy conditions and cars not kitted out with winter tires – and you have a sharp increase in traffic accidents.
· Be extra careful – you can’t see black ice.
· Leave extra room between you and driver in front of you.
· Other sensible drivers are likely to drive slower so don’t get impatient, it could save your life.
· Bring your car in before it gets very frosty and get your tires checked.
By law, you are responsible for your car and will be made liable if you have a traffic accident due to car issues.
2. Cold Weather and Flu
According to research, cold weather-related deaths for this winter are expected at around 40,000 people. This is the highest number in 15 years.
· Maintain an indoor temperature of at least 18°C.
· Don’t leave windows open when you go to bed – this lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke in cold weather.
· Ensure your flu and pneumonia shots are up-to-date.
· Check your central heating – you’ll regret it if it breaks down on Christmas Eve.
· Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes and blankets in case of a power cut or broken boiler.
· If you have an elderly relative or know of an elderly person, do check on them.
3. Food Poisoning
Food poisoning over Christmas is a hazard because many people fail to cook the Christmas turkey properly.
Defrost Your Turkey Properly
· As a guide, allow 10-12 hours per kilogram to defrost in the fridge.
· FSA (Food Standards Agency) research shows that 69% of people leave their turkey in an unsafe place when defrosting (the garage, the garden shed, or the bath) – don’t be one of them!
· Keep raw meat at the bottom of your fridge – it should be below 5°C.
· Keep it covered with the original packaging or in a container so no juices contaminate other food.
Cook Your Turkey Thoroughly
Despite popular belief, you don’t need to wash your defrosted turkey! The water doesn’t get rid of bacteria and actually just ends up on your kitchen surfaces.
· Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4).
· To cook your bird (unstuffed):
· Under 4.5kg – allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes
· Between 4.5 and 6.5 kg – allow 40 minutes per kg
· Over 6.5 kg – allow 35 minutes per kg
Check the stuffing! If you’ve stuffed your turkey, the stuffing must also be at the same temperature as the turkey. The weight of the stuffing should be taken into account when cooking.
· Check to make sure your turkey is cooked with a food thermometer, inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the bird. If the temperature is at 74°C the turkey is ready to rest before carving.
· Alternatively, there should be no pink meat and the juices should be clear.
Dealing with Leftovers
People say they eat turkey sandwiches all throughout January – is that really such a good idea? Make sure you do the following:
· Place leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible.
· Remove the meat from the bone.
· Store for two days maximum.
Deal with leftovers in style – check out these 5 Awesome Christmas Dinner Leftover Recipe Ideas.
4. Accidents around the Home and Fire
According to statistics, up to 50% more people are likely to die in a house fire during the Christmas period than any other time of year. Reasons include:
· Christmas trees – this disturbing video shows just how quickly a Scotch Pine destroys a room.
· Candles – keep them away from anything that might catch alight.
· Smoking – everyone likes to snooze after Christmas dinner, unfortunately some with cigarettes in hand.
· Drinking – people are way more accident prone around the house when they are under the influence.
More accidents happen at home than anywhere else – that’s a fact. Every year there are approximately 6,000 deaths as the result of a home accident. Add Christmas fun into the equation and this festive time can turn lethal, quickly. The bottom line is just to be sensible and careful.
Alarmingly, 59% of burglaries in England and Wales occur when people are supposedly safe and sound at home. Christmas time is when we give and receive wonderful gifts, so homes are even more vulnerable as they are full of presents, most left under a Christmas tree. It’s a burglar’s paradise.
The most obvious solution is of course to get a burglar alarm. Failing that, here are some burglary prevention tips:
· Don’t whack the Christmas tree and presents right by the front window.
· Don’t leave your gifts under the tree – at all.
· Turn your Christmas lights off when you go to bed (they pose a fire risk) but keep your house well-lit.
· Put security warning stickers on your windows – much cheaper than buying the whole kit!
· Make sure your front door is double-locked.
6. Alcohol-Related Accidents
Did you know there is a 41% increase in alcohol-related injuries in December? It may sound surprising, but common assaults and domestic violence also go up by a one third on Christmas Day. As it is the season to be merry, drinking is par for the course but be drink-aware and try not to overdo it. Alcohol is very often involved in all of the above.
This piece isn’t meant to sweep a black cloud over the festivities! You can still have plenty of fun even though the above hazards and dangers might sound daunting. If you do take these precautions you can increase your chances of having a safe, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year!