Follow my advice and stay safe at Christmas

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Right, now pay attention because with Christmas just around the corner I must raise a number of important health and safety issues which you should observe next week. We don’t want your celebrations ruined by preventable accidents do we? And remember, you could find a legal leach on your doorstep if things do go wrong.

First and foremost, it is vital to prepare a risk assessment for the festivities which should be distributed to all your family and friends attending. It must be completed in triplicate, the top copy being retained by the recipient and filed safely for future reference, one signed copy retained by you and the second signed copy forwarded to the local health and safety officer. The form should include agreement by the signatory, exempting you from any liability whatsoever arising from each and every conceivable damage to property or personal injury, whilst on your premises. You should ensure assessments are completed prior to entry.

A full list of measures to be included in the assessment can be obtained free of charge at www.bonkersbritain dotty com, but meanwhile the following may be helpful. The first major hazard to be considered is wrapping paper. This is extremely sharp and potentially dangerous whilst wrapping or unwrapping presents. The best advice is to avoid giving or receiving presents altogether but if you must, newspaper provides a safer alternative. If you can still afford to send cards by post, similar problems apply to envelopes, but newspaper is not advised because of its poor water-resistant properties.

Many accidents occur during the transportation and decoration of Christmas trees. The spines are extremely sharp and great caution should be employed, with hard-hats and gloves worn throughout handling. Naked flames must not be used and light strings fitted by a qualified electrician. A safety barrier should be erected round the tree once decoration is complete. Christmas crackers and party poppers present a major hazard and the on-line 100-page safety instructions should be followed at all times. Christmas cards must not be placed on overhead shelves, ledges or mantels etc, to avoid injury if they fall.

During meals, great care should be taken to ensure appropriate utensils are provided for serving and eating to avoid burnt fingers.

After meals, grandparents should not be woken to participate in games unless permission has been previously obtained in writing and any games played must observe current safety regulations as issued by the Home Office. Guests must not be allowed to jump up and down with excitement during the final of Strictly Come Dancing in case of injury.

With your health and safety now assured, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.