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Avoiding Christmas property damage and accidents

Avoiding Christmas property damage and accidents

Avoiding Christmas property damage and accidents


With the festive season fast approaching, your blogger has been reminiscing on past Christmases, as we all do – missing family and friends that are no longer with us – the poignant memories and, of course the funny ones…. Willow, our black and white cat, roaring down the hallway, gathering speed before launching herself up the Christmas tree, right up to the top, in the dining room.

We all just stood there – it was as if time itself had come to a standstill; nobody could move – watching the 12-foot tall tree go into graceful freefall with alarmed cat clinging on where the fairy should have been.  Then came the crash, with glass baubles smashing all over the place; like mercury, the slithers seemed to scatter to every corner of the room …. Unfortunately, there were no plastic baubles in those days.

Willow was fine, incidentally; shaken up, she shot out of the cat flap at breakneck speed and with eyes the size of saucers … she magically returned when the turkey was being carved, no injury incurred.  But the festive season doesn’t have such a fortunate outcome for everyone: according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, (RoSPA), around 80,000 people in the UK suffer accidents and injuries in their homes during the Christmas holidays every year. 79 percent of the claims made to insurance companies are for , 6 percent are for theft and 1 percent is for liability due to accidents. Overall, average claim costs are 16% higher than at other times of the year.

It might sound as though RoSPA believes in Nanny Christmas rather than Father Christmas when you hear the society’s tips for an accident-free and safe Christmas, but then Plastic Surgeon deals with damage resulting from logic defying stupidity on an almost weekly basis: such as the student who incinerated their shower pod by placing a lighted candle in the soap holder.

RoSPA’s advice then is to follow these 12 safety tips to help prevent your festivities being cut short by a trip to casualty:

  • Make sure you buy children’s gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards (e.g. The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011)
  • Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them – that way you won’t be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms
  • Look out for small items that could pose a choking hazard to young children, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons
  • Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings. Don’t leave burning candles unattended, make sure you put them out before going to bed and do not put candles on Christmas trees
  • If you have old Christmas lights, seriously consider buying new ones, which will meet much higher safety standards, keep the lights switched off until the Christmas tree is decorated, don’t let children play with lights (some have swallowed the bulbs), and remember to switch off the lights when going out of the house or going to bed
  • Remember, Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them, for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands
  • Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knife accidents that come from rushing, and keep anyone not helping with dinner out of the kitchen. Wipe up any spills quickly
  • Have scissors handy to open packaging, so you’re not tempted to use a knife, and have screwdrivers at the ready to assemble toys
  • Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions
  • Falls are the most common accidents so try to keep clutter to a minimum. Make sure stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests
  • Plan New Year fireworks parties well in advance and follow the Firework Safety Code
  • Do not drink and drive, and plan long journeys so you won’t be driving tired.

RoSPA also reported that 36 percent of all the claims around Christmas are for accidental damage with 21 percent of those being for damage to floors and carpets. Thankfully most of the UK’s big insurers now have national agreements with Plastic Surgeon and our Finishers are adept at removing stains as well as repairing chips and gouges in stone or timber floors as well as laminates and other manufactured substrates.

Amazingly, though, 9% of the insurance claims are for damage to glasses (not wine glasses!) and contact lenses.

Coming back to animals, though, here are my warnings for a safe Christmas for them: Christmas trees are mildly toxic, while mistletoe and holly are highly poisonous, as are Poinsettia plants, Lilies and Daffodils. Chocolate is not good, so no edible tree decorations or Christmas cake that contains raisins.

Follow these few tips; while we at Plastic Surgeon wish you all an enjoyable, safe, and merry Christmas!

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