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  • Hazel Hawkes

Christmas Chaos: Working at Heights

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Christmas can be an accident filled time if you aren't careful. The NHS has reported that in recent years 2.6 million people have fallen off a stool or ladder whilst hanging decorations and a separate study found that 1 in 50 people injured themselves by falling when getting decorations out of the loft. This doesn't include anyone who slips on icy paths or trips in rooms full of wrapping paper and wires. It also doesn't account for anyone who, in an unfamiliar house, took a wrong turning in the night and fell down the stairs trying to find the bathroom.

In order to avoid ending up in A&E because of a fall during the festive season here are some Elf and Safety tips:

  • Where possible don't go up to the loft when you are on your own, have someone there that you can hand your decorations to.

  • Try not to rely on chairs or stools if you need to stand on something to hang your decorations, invest in a stepladder.

  • Make sure all ladders are secure and stable and, where possible, have someone standing at the bottom to hold it steady.

  • Whilst up a ladder avoid over-reaching to hang something.

  • Try to keep on top of the clutter such as discarded wrapping paper, toys or trailing wires to avoid creating unseen trip hazards.

  • Keep a light on at the top of the stairs so visitors are not fumbling around in the dark.

  • Make sure that if your child gets a new bike, or similar, for Christmas that they are wearing a helmet and appropriate protective gear before going to try it out.

  • If you do choose to go for a walk, wear appropriate footwear so that you have the best chance of not slipping over

If you or someone you are with should take a tumble, here's some first aid advice:

Assess the situation before you do anything

Are they responsive?:

If not responsive:

  • Are they breathing?

  • If they are breathing, carefully put them in the recovery position

  • If they are not breathing, start CPR and call 999

If they are responsive:

  • Talk to them - try to find out how it happened (if you didn't see)

  • Try to work out where it hurts the most - look to see if there is any obvious bleeding or bruising

  • If they are conscious and you think they have fallen from a height or could have injured their neck or spine - Do Not move them. Keep them as still as possible, discourage them from twisting around and call 999

  • If you are aware of bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean pad whilst someone grabs a first aid kit

If there is no obvious injury:

  • Carefully and slowly help them into a seated position - watch for signs of discomfort or dizziness

  • Assist them into a chair

  • Very carefully check them over to make sure there aren't any unseen injuries

  • Keep an eye on them for the next 24 hours

For a sprain:

  • Get them to rest

  • Put an ice pack on the injury for 20 minutes to help with the pain and swelling

  • If it does not improve, see medical advice

If you think someone has a broken bone:

  • Encourage them to support the injury with their hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement - this can help prevent further damage

  • Arrange for them to go to the hospital - call 999 if needed

  • Continue supporting the injury until help arrives

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