Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Holidaymakers at seasonal injury risk

Inebriated Christmas revellers caught up in festive celebrations are a major cause of injuries in Rotorua during the holiday period.

Rotorua Hospital Emergency Department head Dr Mazen Shasha said patients "affected by alcohol who have tripped or fallen, often at a Christmas celebration of some kind", often presented with injuries.

People cutting their hands during cooking and children hurt while playing with new Christmas toys were other common injury sources, he said. Christmas Day revellers have also fallen victim to exploding champagne corks, dodgeball injuries and even humorous Christmas crackers.

ACC figures show 66 claims were registered in Rotorua for Christmas Day injuries last year, costing about $42,000.

Nationwide, more than 3500 claims were accepted, amounting to about $2 million in treatment, support and rehabilitation costs.

Dr Shasha said inattention was a major factor in many of the Yuletide injuries. He urged people to behave responsibly throughout the holiday period.

"Enjoy the season, keep a close watch on your children and their activities, and enjoy a tipple - but please don't drink to excess."

ACC's general manager injury and prevention services, John Beaglehole, is also reminding Kiwis to take it easy tomorrow.

"Last year, 3500 Kiwis had their Christmas Day blighted by injuries. Their injuries occurred while rushing to get their presents or playing with new toys - or their grandchildren's toys."

Some people pulled a muscle while cooking dinner and others burned themselves on the barbecue. Being hit by flying corks, cutting a hand while opening a bottle and slicing crayfish were all reported causes of Christmas Day injuries last year, he said.

The number of claims has risen slightly since 2010. Nearly half of last year's Christmas ACC claims were caused by falls in and around the home.

"[People] 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 in and around the home."

Lame Christmas cracker jokes can also prove dangerous. Two years ago one Christmas-goer laughed so hard they fainted, fell in the garden, and hit their head.

Mr Beaglehole said people could do several things to minimise chances of an accident.

"About 30 per cent of injuries involve alcohol, so remember to be a responsible host if serving alcohol this Christmas.

"Use a ladder or stepladder to hang Christmas decorations, not a chair, or worse still a chair balanced on a table. You may have extra people staying - clear away the Christmas debris to prevent them tripping," he said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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