Cautionary tale in ACC holiday hazards list

Beware of leaping out of bed with joy tomorrow morning - you could become a Christmas casualty.

It is the season to be jolly, but for more than 23,000 people, including 2700 in the Waikato, the summer holidays were marred by injury last year.

One excited woman barely made it out of bed before her Christmas Day took a turn for the worse.

"Jumped too quickly getting out of bed and wrenched the right side of neck. Heard a click. Very sore since," the woman's ACC claim form said.

But she's not the only one.

Injuries on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, December 30, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 2012-13 have cost taxpayers more than $14.6 million to date, according to the latest figures from ACC.

Claimants in the Waikato have received more than $1.8m for injuries over the same period.

There were 154 Christmas tree-related claims, 79 toy-related claims, 39 Christmas light-related claims and 29 Christmas present-related claims nationally last year, ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said.

Some of the more specific incidents included playing with a grandson on the floor and getting hit in the mouth with a wooden toy; eating Christmas pudding and biting into a shard of glass, which became lodged in the gum; and getting poked in the eye by a pine needle while decorating a Christmas tree.

One claim form simply said: "Plate fell out of fridge."

Whether it was a plate of Christmas turkey, lamb racks for the barbecue or a delicious dessert was not specified. What ever it was - it was dangerous.

The most common causes of injury were collision/knocked over by object and lifting/carrying strain.

However, there were more unusual causes such as ingesting fungi and at least one shooting.

A Blenheim man admitted accidentally shooting another man in the leg on Boxing Day last year, Fairfax reported, but it's not known if it's related to the ACC claim.

The highest number of injuries of the summer holidays, based on last year's figures, occurred on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and there were more injuries on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day than on Christmas Day.

There was no noticeable spike in accidents over the Christmas and New Year period, but Ms Melville said an injury during this time could possibly ruin the summer holidays.

"Christmas is an exciting time but it can also be tiring, stressful and frantic," she said.

"Add alcohol to the mix and you have an injury cocktail in the making."

She urged people to slow down, plan ahead and think about their actions and surroundings.

"While there isn't an increase in the number of accidents at this time of year, the consequences can mean your holiday fun is curtained."

There were 274 admissions at Waikato DHB hospitals' emergency departments on Christmas Day last year and 238 on New Year's Day.

Spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said it was commonly adults playing with kids' presents and hurting themselves. Push scooters were a leading cause of injury last year, she said.

"On a more solemn note, people who are suicidal, depressed and drink excessively also present."


Examples of Christmas Day injuries

Jumped too quickly out of bed and wrenched right side of neck. Heard a click. Very sore since.

Eating Christmas pudding and bit on a piece of glass. Some glass got stuck in gum.

Got hit in the mouth with a cricket ball.

Playing with grandson on the floor and was hit in the mouth with a wooden toy.

Opening Christmas presents and slipped with knife. Cut two fingers on right hand.

Decorating Christmas tree and got pine needle in eye.

Plate fell out of fridge.

Fell while putting up the Christmas tree.

Burnt hand getting tray out of the oven.

Bowled over by large wave.

SOURCE: Accident Compensation Corporation New Zealand

Waikato Times