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Seasonal Safety: Treacherous Trees & More!
christmas tree

Don't trip over the tinsel! It's important to be safe but unnecessary to be paranoid about Christmas safety. Your common sense is sufficient to see you through.

About 80,000 people will go to hospital in a Christmas-related accident this year but if you take a few precautions, you won't be one of them.

Don't fear the fir
Christmas trees are responsible for around 1,000 accidents a year, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Most casualties are down to a wobbly stepladder or a poke in the eye from a sharp branch, but beware of fire hazards too. Make sure you check your fairy lights every year before using them and, even if you're tempted by the idea of an authentic Victorian Christmas, never use candles on a tree.

Toddlers have problems distinguishing glass baubles from sweets so edible decorations are best avoided until your children are old enough to tell the difference.

Although pine trees are non-toxic, mistletoe and holly are poisonous. If you can't bear the thought of plastic foliage, hang greenery well out of reach of children and beware of berries falling on the floor.

Talking turkey
Many families only tackle turkey once a year and cooking a large, unfamiliar bird for lots of people can be one of the chief stresses of Christmas. Stick to our tips to avoid turkey trauma:

  • Make sure a frozen turkey is properly defrosted. Keep raw turkey, giblets or any other raw meats away from ready-to-eat foods and clean all utensils and worktops after preparing your turkey.
  • Leave plenty of time for cooking and remember to pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) or Gas Mark 4. As a rough guide, for an unstuffed turkey under 4.5kg allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes; for one weighing between 4.5kg and 6.5kg 40 minutes per kg; and for those over 6.5kg, 35 minutes per kg. Many turkeys come with cooking instructions on the packaging.
  • A stuffed turkey will cook more slowly. If you're not sure how much your stuffed bird will weigh, cook your stuffing in a roasting tin.
  • Make sure your turkey is thoroughly cooked before you serve it. It should be piping hot right through and when you cut into the thickest part, none of the meat should be pink. When you pierce the turkey, or when you press the thigh, any juices that run out should be clear.
  • Nobody will mind if you serve the meal a bit later. It's better to delay dinner than risk food poisoning from an undercooked bird.

Festive food
Be careful when setting light to your Christmas pudding! Make sure any flammable decorations are well away from the plate. Don't pour the brandy straight from the bottle and don't add more alcohol once it's burning - you could get a flashback.

Small children can choke on peanuts and other nibbles, so don't leave bowls of snacks on low tables. If anyone has a nut allergy, check ingredients carefully and make sure guests are aware of it so they don't offer unsuitable snacks. Tiny cracker toys can also be dangerous if swallowed.

Try to use up all leftovers within 48 hours. Poultry is particularly prone to contamination, so refrigerate cooked meats and poultry as soon as possible. Don't leave a plate of turkey or cold meats out all day, as bacteria can grow and multiply. Make sure leftover turkey is piping hot all the way through and don't reheat it more than once.

On the road
Be especially careful when driving during the festive season. Along with the increased dangers of ice and snow, bear in mind the risks of drink-driving. Other motorists won't necessarily be as sober as you are and, even if they are, a tired teetotaller might not be alert enough to avoid an accident.

Don't be tempted to overload your car, either with gifts or extra passengers, and always make sure there are enough seatbelts or car seats for everyone.



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