Winter Worryland: Everything You Need To Know To Ensure A Safe Christmas

19/12/2016 12:34 GMT | Updated 19/12/2016 12:34 GMT

Whilst Christmas is meant to be the season of good cheer, for medical personnel across the country, the prevailing feeling is that of foreboding. Hidden behind a front of presents and flashing lights, there are a number of dangers to your well-being that you should keep in mind. Some of these are minor mishaps, but others can seriously damage your health. If you want the gift of safety this year, then read on to ensure peace of mind.

On the Road

As the famous carol says, the weather outside is frightful. And, it is indeed. For drivers, this is the most perilous time of year as even the straightest of roads becomes hazardous should ice appear. The sub-zero conditions make this a very real threat even on surfaces that see a large volume of traffic, so you can never be complacent when behind the wheel.

To combat a threat that's virtually impossible to spot at speed, specially designed winter tyres are on the market to improve your vehicle's grip, even if the surface does not appear to be treacherous.

Your tyres however are not the only parts of your vehicle that needs treating this winter. The Met Office highlights the issue of visibility, and recommends checking the brightness of your lights, along with the effectiveness of your windscreen wipers and demisters. If you end up driving in a heavy fog or a in a heavy downpour of snow, then being able to see other cars and them being able to see you is crucial for avoiding a collision. Furthermore, should a crash happen and it transpires your lights were ineffective or you couldn't see properly, you will be held liable. Under the law, failing to properly maintain or outfit your car is an offence, even if you are unaware of any technical flaws. Mechanics everywhere offer a special winter service just to avoid this scenario, and it's far cheaper to pay for that than for a brand new car!

That's not even to mention those killed or injured in the drink driving incidences that can follow. Always make sure to have a plan to get home if you plan on drinking, be it public transport, a taxi or a designated driver.

Cold Weather & Illness

Mostly seniors and those with existing health issues are prone to the dangers, hence the drive by institutions such as the NHS to get the public to care more for the elderly. The 'Stay Well This Winter Campaign' specifically targets over 65's, with many recommendations to combat the cold.

These recommendations include keeping your home at 18C minimum, wearing multiple layers of clothing, and stocking up on useful over-the-counter medicines. The campaign also recommends seeking professional help as soon as even a minor symptom develops, before it can potentially deteriorate into a more harmful condition. Such advice can apply to all ages, as all are at risk of colds, flu or even pneumonia after prolonged exposure to the cold.

To counter this, take care to wrap up warm and ensure your property is suitably heated. Specifically, for flu though, your local GP can provide a vaccination. Those in high-risk groups are advised to take the offer, and even those outside these groups should strongly consider doing so. All too often, a vulnerable flu sufferer catches the symptoms not from the environment, but from a close friend or family member who hasn't had the jab. The Office for National Statistics credits a fall in the number of flu-related deaths to 'the most prevalent strain of the flu virus impacting younger people rather older people', but vigilance is required to ensure the disease is simply not lying dormant and waiting to surface once flu season is over.

In the House

Christmas may be a time for chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but take care to ensure that's all that gets roasted! The NHS points out that deaths due to house fires rocket up by 50% around this time due to lit flames within a property. From ovens to cigarettes to candles, just the slightest nudge can scupper the festivities.

Christmas trees are spectacularly combustible as you can see, and no nearby present should face such a fate.

The London Fire Brigade states that - "Four times as many people smoke as they do vape but there are 255 times more smoking-related fires, meaning vaping eliquids instead of tobacco is a far safer option in terms of preventing fires." What with New Year's Resolutions around the corner - perhaps it's time to switch.

Home Security

Christmas is also notorious for the rise in crime. Across the entire year, 59% of burglaries happen whilst occupants are asleep in the property, and the sight of presents sitting teasingly under the tree just maximises their potential gain. Make sure your house or flat is securely locked up, curtains drawn and alarmed if possible. The mere presence of such measures can deter them from even trying.

The odds of anything happening are extremely low. Like with any time of the year, take your time with any difficult issues such as juggling cooking pots and pans, and take just a minute to safeguard your home. Christmas should be a time of community and rejoicing, and hopefully this guide has raised awareness of elements, ensuring that you'll have a very Merry Christmas.