Robert House guides us through the 12 Injuries of Christmas and what to do about them, bringing you health and happiness!

We all know the 12 days of Christmas song, or at least up to the point we can really go for it on ‘fiiiiiiiiive  goooooooooooold riiiiiiiiiiiiiings’. But did you know it’s based on 3 different families in a street who all had terrible a Christmas one year and made a song about it. Super-duper true and will definitely not have me removed from Santa’s nice list….

Anyway let’s join the first loving family on their nightmare Christmas health journey…


In the First Aid of Christmas, my true love’s injury…. A Partridge with D and V

Santa Christmas food

So you have Diarrhoea and Vomiting and it’s the week before Christmas! Disaster! Especially when the thought of your favourite Christmas food with all the trimmings is making you feel bad.

How do we best deal with this common little issue and what causes it?

Gastroenteritis is the most common reason, being triggered by a virus or bacteria, with the rotavirus (children) and norovirus (adults) being the most likely suspects. It can also occur with food poisoning, so make sure that turkey for Christmas dinner is properly cooked.

Most of the time it will pass (pun intended) within a week and there is usually no need to see a doctor for it. They are also not keen on you coming in either as it is passed around really easily. Instead, if you have concerns ask for a telephone consultation or call 112 (in the UK) unless there is blood in your stool, in which case, chase up seeing a GP as that can be a sign of something nasty from Krampus.

What can you do in the meantime?

Keep those fluids up. Drink a lot! No, not eggnog. Even if it’s in small sips, get plenty of water in. It’s important to avoid dehydration. You should try to eat what you can, when you can as you need energy, though maybe take it easy on all the mince pies. Paracetamol for any discomfort can be taken if you feel you need it too.

Keep hygiene up as much as possible and remember you are still infectious up to 2 days after your last event. So keep away from people. Good excuse for getting away from an unwanted family visit?

Let’s look at some don’ts now. Children should not take meds to stop diarrhoea unless explicitly designed for children. Also don’t give them aspirin. I would strongly avoid fizzy or fruit juice drinks too as they can make your toilet visits even more frequent and land you on the naughty list.

Good thing it has settled down as it’s now Christmas Eve.


On the second day of Christmas, another injury…. Two Broken Bones

santa chimney

Picture it now, it’s Christmas eve and all is quiet when BANG! There is a crash at the bottom of the chimney and Santa is in a heap on the floor. He mistimed his landing and has broken his legs and sprained his wrist!

What can we do? What kinds of breaks are there?

Let’s start with the types of fractures: Stable and unstable fractures and open and closed fractures. If a break is stable that means that the ends of the breaks are in place, but unstable is the more ‘OUCH’ looking ones where the ends are off from each other. Open is just that, the bone is sticking out through the skin, with closed being a break that hasn’t come through.

Back to Santa. He’s checked his list and you’re a first aider, brilliant. So what to do? Call for professional help, and not the elf kind. Then you can administer emergency first aid.

Let’s start with the closed fracture. Doesn’t look too bad but we don’t know how stable it is, so let’s not take any chances. We need to immobilise it. Get help to stay next to the leg and help keep it still, or use pillows or whatever you have at hand to help Santa not move his leg. Now to the horrible looking other leg! The bone is poking out of the shin and there is blood. Lucky for Santa his suit is red, but the faux fur trim has taken a hit. We need to control the bleeding with sterile dressings ideally. Get Santa, using his good arm, to apply some pressure on the area. Best he does it because he knows his own pain threshold. Now get a bandage around it as best you can and immobilise again.

Next up to his sprained wrist. We need some RICE. That’s Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. So let’s strap up that wrist but not too tight. We want good Christmas wrapping style, not trying to wind up your mate with impossible to open style. Once that’s done, use a triangle bandage to make a sling, or get them to rest their hand across their chest. Then something nice and cold, maybe a bag of sprouts from the freezer, wrapped in a tea towel.

You saved Christmas! Extra gift for you.


On the third day of Christmas, another injury…. Three French Burns

hob burn

You’re in the kitchen making the world’s greatest ever Christmas dinner. You are using some of the epic Role Play Gourmet recipes and everything is going great until disaster!! Somehow hot fat, a cup of tea and an open flame have all managed to make their way onto your partner’s skin! You can’t leave them alone for 5 minutes!

We need to assess the damage, using SCALD.

  • Size – how big is it? On an average person about one of their open palms equates to around 5% of their body surface. We’ll need this data soon.
  • Cause – What caused the burn? Electric or chemical burns needs to go to a hospital sooner rather than later. Don’t risk it.
  • Age – Kids and old people should go to a hospital regardless of severity.
  • Location – where on the body is burned? Face, head, genitals, hands and feet burns should go to a hospital regardless of severity.
  • Depth – this broken into three types and we’ll need that percentage here.

Superficial burns are burns that cause reddening of the skin. Any more than 5% needs hospital treatment.

Partial thickness burns are burns that blister and any more than 1% coverage needs hospital treatment.

Full thickness burns are ones where they no longer hurt. Those are bad. They need hospital regardless of the size. Like now.

Let’s go back to our cumbersome partner. Run the burns under cool water for a minimum of 10 minutes and carry on until the burning pain has gone. Remove any clothing from the area. Drape over cling film to keep the area clean then off to the hospital if needed. If not, don’t use greasy or oily products over it as they create a barrier keeping heat in, but moisturising is good.


On the fourth day of Christmas, another injury…. Four Signs of Stroke

Stroke is a very serious medical condition and needs to be treated FAST!

Like, quicker than those reindeer can get Santa around the world in a night…

Strokes happen when there is a loss of blood supply to the brain, with a clot being the most common cause.

You have left your partner in the kitchen with their burns under the cool water, only to be met in the front room by one of your in-laws looking rather peculiar. And you have that oh so horrible gut feeling…

But luckily you are a first aider and you know to act FAST…

Face – drooping on once side, can’t smile, eye dropped and/or mouth dropped.

Arms – can’t lift both sides equally, weakness or numbness in one side.

Speech – slurred and difficult

Time – call 999 urgently

You have done this, help is on its way so go and sit next to the in-law on the sofa, on the bad side, to help steady them and sing Christmas songs with them to help keep them calm.


Come back next week for part 2 of our 12 injuries of Christmas where our accident-prone families continue to suffer, so you don’t have to.

Merry Christmas!

As always, take care of yourselves and happy geeking!

Robert House – Operating Department Practitioner and Coaching for Geeks health correspondent

Follow Robert on Twitter @Roberthouse1985


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