28 Dec 2015

Just how dangerous can Christmas be?

10:26 am on 28 December 2015

Christmas is supposed to be a time of festivities and fun but figures from the Accident Compensation Corporation show it's potentially dangerous and expensive.

ACC received claims for 154 Christmas tree related injuries in 2014.

ACC received claims for 154 Christmas tree related injuries in 2014. Photo: 123RF

Last year, it received 3554 claims for Christmas Day and 4037 claims for Boxing Day, totalling $5.4 million.

Figures obtained by RNZ show last year there were 154 claims for Christmas tree-related injuries, 30 accidents each relating to Christmas presents and Christmas lights and six ham-related injuries.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said it was easy for people to get carried away at Christmas parades. With hordes of families, excited kids and lots of activity and merriment, it was easy for folk to be distracted by all the festive fun.

While most of the claims were relatively minor, many were for things people could relate to.

"People trip, people get stood on. One poor dear had a twisted knee while trying to manage a lively child at the santa parade. Isn't that an accident description that we can all relate to?"

Christmas trees might not appear to be accidents waiting to happen but a number of claims related to getting the tree out of storage, or injuring your back while picking it up or putting it down, and standing on chairs and falling off.

"We had one poor soul that jumped down from putting an angel on the top of the tree and injured their knee. You could see how this stuff happens," she said.

A photo of a baked Christmas ham prepared by food writer Sam Mannering.

There were ACC claims for six ham-related injuries in 2014. Photo: RNZ/Justin Gregory

And while utensils played a part in the ham-related claims, they were not the only cause of injury.

"Folk get back sprains from carrying out those wonderful large silver platters that we only get out at Christmas time. And we're so proud to be displaying this most wonderful ham, that's decorated and festive and sometimes the ham gets the better of the carrier," she said.

Utensils also played a part in many of the claims related to Christmas presents.

"It's putting your eye on that really glossy Christmas present and just wanting to tear it open with a knife, or a sharp object. And we get distracted because of course we're just focussed on what's inside the present - 'am I going like it, oh Nana don't let it be another pair of socks and undies'."

That means a number of minor claims for wrapping and opening Christmas presents.

So how many of the claims are alcohol related? Year round it's about 11 percent and at Christmas time but because ACC runs a no fault scheme, it's impossible to calculate the impact alcohol has over the silly season.

Perhaps just as well.