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Christmas Time Accidents Do Happen - 10 Most Common


Dec 21 2006 - Ruth Taylor, Western Mail

Have a lovely Christmas... but for goodness sake be careful! Ruth Taylor reports

EVERY year more than 400,000 people are taken to hospital in Wales as the result of an accident. The majority of these accidents happen in the home.

If you or your family has a crisis would you be able to cope?

With the support of HSBC, Wales's leading first aid charity, St John Cymru Wales, has launched a "Be First with First Aid" campaign to raise awareness of first aid during the periods when accidents are most likely to happen, such as the school holidays.

Here is advice on how to treat 10 of the most common accidents that occur at Christmas time.

Burning yourself taking Christmas cake out of the oven. If the burn is bigger than the palm of your hand, seek medical attention. For a minor burn, place the affected area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes. Remove any constricting jewellery and clothing and cover with a non-fluffy sterile dressing. Never apply any butter or lotion to it.

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Suspected heart attack while dancing. If a person complains of severe indigestion high in the abdomen, their skin is ashen and their lips are blue, dial 999 or get someone else to do so. Sit them in a half-sitting position with their head and shoulders supported and knees bent and loosen any restrictive clothing. Give them aspirin and tell him or her to chew it slowly.

Passing out at a party. If a person feels faint advise them to lie down. You'll need to kneel and put their feet on your shoulders to help the blood flow to the brain. Make sure they have plenty of fresh air, space and water. If they feel unwell due to alcohol or drugs, place the person in the recovery position and call 999.

Cuts while carving the turkey. Wash with running cold water and an alcohol-free wipe. Elevate the injured part above heart level. Apply a sterile gauze and then an adhesive dressing. If the cut is to the hand it may be more serious as there are many large blood vessels, tendons and nerves that could get damaged, so you may need medical attention.

Choking on a peanut. If the casualty is breathing, encourage them to cough. If they cannot dislodge the object, carry out back blows: stand to the side and slightly bend them forwards, then give them up to five substantial blows between the shoulder blades. Stop if it clears. Check their mouth to see if the object has been dislodged. If this fails, try abdominal thrusts: stand behind the casualty and put your arms around the upper part of the abdomen.

Bend them forwards and place your hand in a fist with thumb inwards between the naval and bottom of the breastbone - grasp with the other hand and then pull sharply inwards up to five times. Repeat the sequence twice, but if this does not clear the obstruction, call 999 and then continue with back slaps and abdomen thrusts.

Electrocuted fixing Christmas lights. Switch off the electrical current without touching the casualty or the current. Use a wooden broom handle or something non-conductive to move the person away from the electrical source. If they are not breathing, dial 999 and start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Suspected broken bones after a fall. If you suspect someone has broken a bone go to your local A&E. Support the injury with a tied bandage and remember not to give the casualty anything to eat, drink or smoke in case they need an anaesthetic. Call 999 if you think there is something seriously wrong, or if the accident involves an elderly or very young person.

Party popper shock. Lie the person down, loosen their clothing and raise their legs. Do not give them anything to eat or drink and check their breathing and pulse. If breathing stops call 999 and start CPR.

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Hypothermia at outdoor celebrations. Bring the person indoors and warm them up slowly. If the person is wet, put on dry clothes, wrap up in blankets and put a hat on. Drink warm or high-energy drinks and avoid alcohol. If the casualty is elderly or very young, dial 999.

Eye injury. If the injury is serious, support the person's head by making them lie down with their head on your knees. Tell them to keep their good eye still and apply a sterile dressing over the injured eye. Transport the casualty to hospital but make sure they are lying down. If this is not possible, call 999.

St John Wales chief executive Keith Dunn said the festive season could also mean accidents and injuries.

"Not all of these are avoidable, but by following our advice, hopefully families can come through this period with a minimum of medical aggravations."

Why not make a New Year's resolution to learn essential life- saving skills? Courses can take as little as two hours and take place all over the country. For more information, contact 0845 678 5646 or visit

Ruth Taylor is PR and media officer with St John Cymru Wales.

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