Health Advice For The Festive Season

It seems we really can get too much of a good thing – especially when it comes to overindulging in all the rich pickings on offer at the festive season.

Some easy food swaps can save you the pain of indigestion – a common complaint at this time of year. For instance, try piling your plate with more vegetables as opposed to pigs in blankets, or use a smaller plate. It’s not about saying no, it’s more about everything in moderation.

Our health writer, Colleen Shannon, has some tips in “The People’s Friend” December 22 bumper issue on how to avoid indigestion at Christmas, such as keeping an eye on how much alcohol is consumed, as well as opting for smaller portions.

But it’s not just overindulging in food that we need to be mindful of. St John Ambulance also has festive first aid tips to keep you safe at this time of year.

They say that each Christmas, the NHS experiences significant strain on A&E resource with many patients enduring delays or even being diverted elsewhere due to increased demand. Some simple first aid tips could prevent an unnecessary trip to the GP or hospital at a time when healthcare services are already stretched.

Alan Weir, Head of Clinical Operations at St John Ambulance said, “Knowing basic first aid, such as how to treat a burn from hot pans while cooking, or a sprained ankle from falling whilst getting decorations down from the loft, is vital. It means minor injuries can be dealt with at home, reducing the need for health professionals to step in unnecessarily for minor ailments. It’s also wise to stock up on essentials like plasters and indigestion remedies.”

Here are some key tips from St John Ambulance for treating some of the more likely injuries that could occur during the festive period:

Cuts And Grazes

A slip of the knife while preparing your Christmas feast could leave you with a cut finger or for little ones, tripping over whilst playing may end with tears and a grazed knee.

What to do:

  1. If the wound is dirty, clean the wound with cold running water or alcohol-free wipes.
  2. Pat it dry.
  3. Raise and support the injury.
  4. Apply a sterile adhesive dressing.

A well-stocked first aid kit is essential.

Treating A Burn Or Scald

Hot oil jumping out of the pan while checking on roast potatoes or a scald from a cup of tea can be painful.

What do to:

  1. Hold burn under cool running water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Remove clothing or jewellery around the burn, unless stuck to the burn.
  3. Cover lengthways with cling film.
  4. Monitor casualty and seek medical advice, for example by calling NHS 111.

Treating Sprains And Strains

It’s a familiar sight, presents have been unwrapped and scattered everywhere and these trip hazards make it easy to fall or sprain your ankle.

What to do – remember “RICE”:

  1. R – Rest injured part
  2. I – Ice pack, such as frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel  applied to the area will help
  3. C – Compression bandage to provide comfortable support
  4. E – Elevate the injured part and advise them to rest

Choking (adult and child)

Over-excitement at the dinner table can sometimes result in some of that delicious Christmas turkey getting stuck in the throat, which can turn into an obstruction of the airway.

What do to (adult and child):

  1. Cough it out
  2. Slap it out – give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades. Check their mouth each time
  3. Squeeze it out – give five abdominal thrusts. Check their mouth each time
  4. Call 999/112 for emergency help if the object does not dislodge. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives.

What to do (baby):

  1. Slap it out
  • Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head
  • Give 5 back blows between their shoulder blades
  • Turn them over and check their mouth each time
  1. Squeeze it out
  • Using two fingers, give 5 sharp chest thrusts
  • Check the mouth each time
  1. If the item does not dislodge, call 999/112 for emergency help
  • Take the baby with you to call
  • Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives

More advice can be found at


Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.