Elf and Safety at Christmas
With a little sprinkle of environmentalism
I can sense the rolling of eyes when Christmas Health and Safety is mentioned. Or indeed ‘Elf and Safety at Christmas’ if we’re being punny.
However, weary as some may be of the matter being reiterated, caution is always worthwhile if it prevents yuletide catastrophe and keeps your loved ones safe.
Tis the season to go shopping! Whilst this seems a fun thing to do with images of happy people wrapped in scarves and coats merrily singing Christmas tunes, dancing from shop-to-shop stopping for mulled wine and chestnuts, reality is often very different.
Many shoppers are cold, in a hurry, annoyed and just want it over and done with. Try and just take a breath, smile and be considerate to fellow shoppers. Focus on what is important over the festive period.
Do you really need to do battle in order to get the last jar of goose fat? A smile and eye-to-eye conversation may make all the difference to someone else. Also, here is a secret…. the shops are only closed for one or two days. Family and friends are not coming to check you cooked your roasties perfectly in goose fat. They come to visit you.
Many of you will be cooking for friends and loved ones.
There is nothing worse for you, or them, than food poisoning, so keep meats at the bottom of the fridge to ensure juices don’t drip on the prized brie or the Baileys chocolate pudding! Also, don’t forget to clean the fridge when they have been removed.
Turkey is often the meat of choice and it needs to be defrosted properly (if frozen) and cooked properly until the juices run clear. To quote Ted Sturgeon in our previous blog… “Clean, clean, clean everything“ …except the turkey. Don’t rinse it as it can splash everywhere taking bacteria with it.
If leftovers are going to be reused, let them cool to room temperature for an hour or two and then put them back in the fridge – above any raw meat. It should be eaten or recycled into curry within 2 days.
We all love to indulge ourselves at Christmas but try and give a thought to waste as well. Only purchase what you know will be eaten. According to some reports, 74 million mince pies and over 4 million plates of turkey are thrown away each year.
Even if this is recycled, the CO2 produced is detrimental to our environment by contributing to global warming. In short, buy less, serve less, recycle effectively e.g. stir fry, curry, sandwiches!
Everyone loves a good light display. It brightens up the winter evenings and I know I am not the only one that drives home this time of year mentally rating the various displays that line the journey!
However, give a thought to the neighbours. Disco rave lighting at 4am through the bedroom curtains from uncontrollable tree lights outside is not always popular. Put the lights on a timer. Not only will this enable your neighbours to rest at night, but you will save electricity and lower the carbon footprint of your proudly arranged illuminations.
It is lovely to see lights and, for some, inflatable Santa, but make sure these are all secure. It is winter and there will be bad weather. Inflatable Santa looks good outside the front door for the grandchildren. It is not so magical (or safe) when you need to chase it down the high street because the wind blew him away. Strings of lights that come “unattached” can also become a trip hazard or missile in high winds when they leave the safety of tree branches.
Try and use modern lights as they are now mostly LEDs which use less electricity and generate less heat. This will decrease the environmental impact and be less likely to cause a fire or electrocution under bad circumstances.
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all boast the pride of many a home at this time of year.
Give thought to the tree, the type and the impact its disposal can have. Not glamorous I know, but it should be at least be a part of our selection criteria. If you prefer an artificial tree, reuse it as many years as you can and on that note, do we really need new baubles each year?
Working at height
Working at height doesn’t just mean building sites.
Getting decorations down from the loft, fixing of lights, the star on the tree, the good plates from the top shelf – all these tasks involve working at height. So please, think about safety.
Use a good pair of step ladders and not the wonky chair from the shed. Ideally, there should be at least one other person there when these tasks are performed so that if the worst does happen and items are dropped, you fall or put your foot through the bedroom ceiling, there will be someone on hand to catch, call for help or extract you from the ceiling, having first taken the embarrassing picture of your dangling legs above the bed!
Lights, decorations and dancing reindeer ornaments all need power. Try and consider using less of these and switching them on only when you are home to see them.
Whilst batteries will save you using electricity from the mains, they take around 100 years to decompose and can become toxic due to the heavy metals within them. Please take them to your local supermarket when they are spent – they have a duty to collect and recycle them.
Additionally, sales of extension leads and multipoint plugs increase dramatically over the festive season. Make sure that the leads are the right length (long enough but not too long) and that you do not overload your electric sockets. Too much load can lead to heat and a fire. Coiled extension leads produce heat too. Check the plugs and sockets regularly.
Lights and displays are not all suitable for outdoors either. Make sure you use the right ones and that any power source is protected against rain, snow and wind.
A universal point always worth emphasising; check your smoke alarms.
If you don’t have one, get one. These can save lives and give you time to leave your house safely if the worst should happen.
Real trees and artificial trees can burn at around the same rate – very quickly. However, artificial trees generate a lot more heat, which will promote the spread of fire more quickly. Keep trees away from heat sources and check tree lights are not frayed or damaged. If you have a real tree, keep it watered.
Many people indulge in more alcohol than usual over the Christmas period. Be it to help recover from the endless shopping, having the grandchildren run riot through the peace and joy, or… just because.
We all know it can impede judgement, make you sleepy and in some cases become aggressive. Be considerate and be sensible. Don’t drink and drive and know your limits.
According to Motoring Research, there are 2.8 million individual journeys predicted for Friday 21st December alone in the UK.
Coupled with the extensive roadworks over the UK, the additional traffic will experience delays. Make sure that you plan your journey, leave sufficient time, watch your speed and take provisions in case of bad weather such as water, snacks and blankets.
Drive to the road conditions – Aunty Jean will not appreciate you arriving flustered and bad tempered because you were trying to drive like you are playing Grand Theft Auto. Neither will anyone else!
When the turkey is eaten, the sherry is drunk, and the festive cheer is waning, it is time to take stock of the packaging and rubbish that we generate throughout the festive period. Everyone can help by reducing, reusing and recycling the waste from wrappings, packaging and Christmas cards.
Supermarkets will recycle batteries and Christmas cards. Your local council will give you details of what you can recycle and where. But before we throw things away – think about whether they can be reused. Gift bags are a great way to do this. Many gifts are placed in these bags for aesthetics but once the gift has been opened, the bag can be used again.
Spare a thought for the long-term environmental impact, protecting everyone’s future Christmases and having a guilt free aftermath.
And finally, here at SHEilds we wish all of you health, safety and peace over the holiday season.
BSc (Hons), DipNEBOSH, EnvDipNEBOSH, MCMI, GradIOSH
Student Support Tutor, SHEilds Ltd.