Festive day can be harmful to health

Last updated 12:00 24/12/2012

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Christmas Day is meant to be a time of joy but it can include some less-than-merry mishaps, as more than 100 Manawatu people learned the hard way last year.

New toys, crayfish, beach cricket and even wrapping paper all contributed to Christmas Day injuries last year, resulting in almost $30,000 of claims in the Manawatu region, according to ACC figures.

Christmas Day dramas last year proved costly, with ACC paying out more than $2 million for 3527 claims nationwide in treatment, support and rehabilitation.

Some favourite Kiwi Christmas Day pastimes were among the catalysts for last year's accidents, ACC's injury and prevention services general manager John Beaglehole said.

"Last year, 3500 Kiwis had their Christmas Day blighted by injuries.

"Injuries occurred while rushing to get their presents or playing with new toys - or their grandchildren's toys. Some pulled a muscle while cooking the Christmas dinner.

"Others were burned on the barbecue, were hit by a flying cork, or cut a hand opening a bottle or cutting crayfish.

"They hurt themselves while doing a bit of gardening, setting up a tent, diving into the pool or swimming at the beach, playing cricket or dodgeball with the family, or falling off scooters and skateboards."

Christmas Day 2011 drew 490 more claims than the previous year, almost half of them relating to falls.

Among them were 157 people in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, including 74 people in Palmerston North City whose injuries cost a total $25,832, and 13 in the Manawatu District whose mishaps cost $2987. Seven claims were made in the Rangitikei District, 19 in Horowhenua, four in Tararua and 40 in Wanganui District.

About 30 per cent of injuries nationwide involved alcohol. Simple steps could be taken to avoid Christmas dramas, Mr Beaglehole said.

"Christmas Day is a time when New Zealanders like to relax, prepare some good food, play with their new toys, and spend quality time with their families - not in the doctor's waiting room or at hospital.

"Remember to be a responsible host if serving alcohol this Christmas, to ensure your friends and family stay out of harm's way.

"Use a ladder or step ladder to hang decorations, not a chair or, worse still, a chair balanced on a table. Ensure your Christmas tree has a sturdy base to stop it toppling over. Clear away the Christmas debris to prevent tripping."

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- The Manawatu Standard

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