As the Christmas gift-buying season reaches its peak, quality and safety organisations Intertek and RoSPA have set out a shopping list of 10 things to remember amidst the rush.
Intertek, who test, inspect, and advise on product quality and safety, and RoSPA, the UK’s family safety charity, want to help people avoid having their Christmas celebrations interrupted by a trip to A&E. Taking a few moments to think about the safety of the gifts you’re giving and the decorations in your home is a great place to start.
Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “In the run up to Christmas, we always receive enquiries about how to stay safe over the festive period, with people looking for straightforward advice to help them make the most of the season and yet avoid unnecessary injuries and trips to A&E. Spending just a few moments thinking about safety in the midst of everything else that is happening can pay dividends.”
Intertek’s UK & Eire Chief Executive Rob van Dorp adds: “We spend all year testing, inspecting and advising on the safety and quality of products, so hopefully our 10 Christmas shopping list reminders will help people to stay safe over the festive season and during the coming year.”
10 Christmas shopping list reminders
1. Who doesn’t like bath bubbles, lotions or lipstick?
Check that the smellies you’ve chosen are “dermatologically tested”, “dermatologist approved” or have the British Skin Foundation stamp of approval, otherwise they might cause skin irritation. Reputable brands and retailers commission clinical dermal safety studies to ensure the safety of their skincare products.
2. Let’s buy a new tool to get next year’s DIY projects sorted.
In England in 2012/13, more than 3,000 people were admitted to hospital after coming into contact with powered hand tools and household machinery*. If you’ll be buying some DIY equipment this Christmas, consider some safety gear too, like strong gloves and goggles.
3. For younger children, the choice of gifts seems endless…
Toys in the EU must be labelled with a CE mark, but also check that the toy is suitable for the age of the child you’re buying for. In particular, for under-3s make sure there are no small parts that could be swallowed or cause choking, and keep an eye on younger children playing with older siblings’ gifts.
4. Older children and young people might have the latest tablet, phone or games console on their wish list.
Always ensure that the power cables and chargers you’re buying are the licensed accessories for the particular product. Unlicensed accessories can be poorly made and poorly insulated, with the potential to cause electric shocks or fire. Always buy accessories from reputable retailers.
5. Has grandma requested some replacement slippers?
Slips, trips and stumbles resulted in more than 90,000 hospital admissions in England in 2012/13, with more than 60 per cent involving people over the age of 70, and women being at particular risk*. Slippers with a good grip on the sole, as well as a proper back – not flip flop style – can help to reduce the risk of falling at home.
6. Would grandad like the latest gifts for the garden?
A pair of gardening gloves, some sturdy outdoor shoes and an RCD (a device that protects against electric shock) could be just the thing to complement next year’s gardening projects. In England in 2012/13, more than 500 people were admitted to hospital after contact with a powered lawnmower, of whom more than 25 per cent were over the age of 65, with men being at particular risk*.
7. In preparation for a spell of snow and ice this winter, consider a pair of well-gripping shoes or crampons for those who will be venturing out and about. The number of falls increases with the arrival of wintry conditions. In England in 2012/13, there were more than 7,000 hospital admissions as a result of people falling on snow or ice*. A pair of well-gripping shoes, crampons to fix on to existing shoes or even Nordic walking poles could be a quirky investment for those who will still need to get out and about.
8. It’s not too late to check your Christmas lights.
If you have older fairy lights, they may be safe, but as the rules governing them were changed in 2010, lights from after 2010 are more efficient and use less energy; with less energy comes a lower risk of electric shock or fire.
9. Go mad, decorate your house, but think whether the decorations are safe for children.
Remember, some Christmas novelties (items intended to be used as decorations) are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them – for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands.
10. Make sure you have all the batteries you need.
Smoke alarms need to be working as Christmas can be a more hazardous time with regard to fire safety with cooking, alcohol consumption, increased use of candles in the home and decorations which may burn easily. Remember to buy good quality batteries for all the gifts that need them – that way you won’t be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms.