outlines the 12 ways to ending up in an emergency department this Christmas. Or not!
A much loved and valued social lubricant in the right dose, but taken in excess, it is the source of most mischief and misery over the festive season (due to accidents and fights), as well as the most common “legacy” (the average ½ stone weight gain after Christmas, because alcohol = fermented sugar + “the munchies”; 1 bottle and a glass = 14 units = the current total weekly recommended intake (for male and female).
The single biggest culinary question at this time of year, especially for occasional or novice cooks (like myself), is “how long should I cook the turkey or goose for?” And understandably so, given that the bird is both the greatest gastronomic pleasure and the greatest gastrointestinal peril.
The key message is that food poisoning from the bird is a clear and present danger unless you (a) keep the bird away from all other food; (b) make sure that bloody turkey juice doesn’t drip on to other edible material in the fridge or surfaces; (c) ensure that the frozen turkey is defrosted over many hours in the fridge; (d) use a separate chopping board for the fowl; (e) use a thermometer placed in the middle of the thigh (meaty/fleshy part), away from hot bone (looking for > 70 degrees C reading).
Christmas time typically sees a surge in hospital attendances with accidents in the house.
The most devastating of these are burns, from the now-rare open fire or electric bar heaters: but the great tragedy is a toddler grabbing a dangling kettle flex, or the handle of a pan of boiling water, and tipping boiling water onto themselves, especially in a fraught kitchen, with a slightly tipsy or tormented cook, who may also burn themselves with the same water or steam.
For instance in novelty cards and watches, ingested by a toddler and - once moistened by oesophageal or salivary juices - they can create a little electrical current burning though the gullet by or damaging the vocal cords, etc. About 90% end up in the nose or ear, but about 10% get into the gullet and stomach.
Decorating the tree mainly, but also tripping over toys and baubles scattered over the stairs and various floors.
And, of course, just outside the house on that icy sheen, when leaving, “well-oiled".
Alcohol is the most effective of all “accelerants” when it comes to bickering, altercation and assault.
It is also the most effective “solvent” when it comes to dissolving a relationship, marital or otherwise.
7. Food Poisoning
Temperature is critical: a bacterium’s idea of bliss is a temperature between 5 - 60 degrees Celsius plus warm moist fingers to convey them from poo to plate (eg a fridge door ajar, and a cook who is in a hurry, forgetting to wash their hands after a trip to the toilet)
Christmas sees a surge in fingertip amputations due to a cocktail of sharp knives, booze and inexperience; other hazards include cutting wrapping paper with a carving knife.
This is often central in the decoration of our homes and, rightly, a delight. But it is also a threat. A seriously dry tree is a bundle of kindling, waiting to be lit by an ember from an open fire, or a spark from a malfunctioning set of tree lights.
Fire is the greatest threat to any household and the risks include the perennial open fire or a dropped cigarette, combined with booze, but the particular seasonal hazards are the flammable decorations, faulty fairy lights, and candles.
And the greatest of them all, the “giant fire lighter” that is a tinder-dry Christmas tree.
Toys are synonymous with the festive season, and they are now given in industrial quantities in many houses.
Toys will cause an astonishing number and variety of injuries to humans and pets this Christmas. Toddlers will put little todys up their noses or into their mouths, as will dogs; and bare-footed adults will stand on them, launch themselves downstairs or slip and fall in the hall or front room.
And lasers and pellets will blind people, drones will be controversial and children will roar because there are no batteries. And parents will roar because someone has swallowed a battery.
11. Too Much of Everything
Weight gain (c. 2 kg typically), hangovers and brain fog after too much partying can leave the average party animal feeling desperate for another holiday.
Or anxious to get back to the daily grind. Sometimes, it is possible to have too much exertion, and it is not advisable to do too vigorous a Gangnam-style dad-dance, if you are out of practice.
12. The Pets
Noise and strangers and lots of strange edible stuff are the main hazards to man’s best friends.
The range of toxic ingestions is almost infinite, but probably the riskiest include baubles, batteries, beads, chocolates, sultanas and poinsettias.