Isle residents urged to be safe this festive season

Councillor Rob Waltham.
Councillor Rob Waltham.

With the festive season well underway North Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) want  to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Christmas so are providing some top tips on how to keep safe.

The Christmas season is a time for celebration, when families and friends come together and rejoice in the party season of the year and for most people is incident free. However, for some this is not the case.

Christmas time sees a large rise in traffic accidents, food poisoning, falls, fires, injuries caused by environmental factors such as exposure to cold or flooding, suicides and homicides and assaults.

Councillor Rob Waltham, cabinet member for Health, Strategic Projects and Regeneration, said: “The Christmas period is a very busy time of year, which means people often forget to look after themselves. We want to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and safe Christmas this year and would recommend following the top tips on keeping safe; from cooking your turkey correctly to watching the amount of alcohol you consume – it’s all very important.”

Follow these top tips this Christmas for keeping safe:

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption rises considerably during the Christmas period, with Britons drinking 41 per cent more in December than the annual monthly average. Alcohol is generally at the root of most accidents that happen over Christmas so take note of the amount you are drinking.

The NHS recommends the daily alcohol intake for men is three to four units or two low strength pints, or two to three units for women or two small glasses of wine. There is a handy guide on how many units are in your favourite drinks on the NHS website: www.nhs.co.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx.

Food poisoning

Defrosting – if you buy a frozen turkey, make sure it is properly defrosted before cooking it. Defrosting should be done in the fridge if possible (or somewhere cool) and separate to prevent contact with other foods with a tray or container underneath to catch the defrosted juices. If there are no defrosting instructions on the turkey packaging, you can follow these guidelines provided by NHS choices:

Defrost in a fridge at four degrees Celsius, allow about ten to 12 hours per kilogram or in a cool room (below 17.5 degrees Celsius) allow about three to four hours per kilogram.

Do not wash the bird. This significantly increases the risk of food poisoning by splashing germs around the kitchen; thorough cooking will kill any bacteria that might be present.

Preparation – after touching raw poultry or meat, always wash your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial wash and warm water. Be sure to dry your hands thoroughly too. Clean worktops or surfaces and utensils after they have touched raw poultry of meat. Never use the same chopping board for raw meat and ready-to-eat food without washing it thoroughly in warm soapy water first. If possible, have two separate chopping boards.

Cooking – plan your cooking time in advance; a large turkey can take several hours to cook properly. Eating undercooked turkey (or other poultry) could cause food poisoning. As a general guide, in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit, gas mark four):

Allow 45 minutes per kilogram plus 20 minutes for a turkey under 4.5kilograms

Allow 40 minutes per kilogram for a turkey between 4.5 and 6.5 kilograms

Allow 35 minutes per kilogram for a turkey more than 6.5 kilograms

Cover your turkey with foil during cooking and uncover for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin. To stop the meat drying out, baste it every hour during cooking.

Three ways you can tell a turkey is cooked:

The meat should be steaming hot all the way through

None of the meat should be pink when you cut into the thickest part of the bird

The juices should run clear when you pierce the turkey or press the thigh.

If you are using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird (between the breast and thigh) reaches at least 70 degrees Celsius for two minutes.​

Get further information on safe cooking of other birds (goose, duck and chicken) and storing the meat safely on the NHS website, www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthychristmas/Pages/cooking-turker.aspx#preparing. ​

Safe sex

Looking after yourself should be top priority so don’t get caught out this party season with an unintended pregnancy or an unwanted sexually transmitted infection (STI). Be prepared and find out where you can go if you need help. Here are some tips to help:

Stock up on contraception including condoms (only condoms prevent STIs)

Know where to go for an emergency contraception

Know how to find a clinic

Don’t panic even if your clinic or GP surgery is closed, emergency contraception can be taken within three (72 hours) or five days (120 hours depending on the pill you take) after you’ve had unprotected sex

For further information about local sexual health services, visit sexualhealthnorthlincs.co.uk or call the NHS support line on 111 for advice.

For more information around keeping yourself healthy over winter, take a look at the council’s winter health pages at www.northlincs.gov.uk/winterhealth.

Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler local GP and Medical Director at North Lincolnshire CCG, said: “Whilst Christmas is a time for celebration, enjoyment and relaxation, it is important that we appreciate some of the risks associated with the festive period. Please act responsibly by drinking in moderation, ensure food is thoroughly cooked, and leftovers are stored correctly. When going out in the cold, wrap up warm and take extra care in icy conditions.”