It’ll be deadly this Christmas…

Deadly This Christmas From This Week 24/12/13:

True fact: You are more likely to die on Christmas, the day after Christmas [commonly known as Boxing Day in good ol’ Blighty], or New Year's Day than pretty much any other day of the year.

Like ugly sweaters and bizarre fruitcakes, the spike in the fatality rate has become something of a yuletide tradition.

I’m not sure that bizarre fruitcakes are one of the symbols most associated with Christmas, to be honest, but let’s not worry about that now.

Indeed, the morbid trend appears to have held consistent since at least the 1970s, per a new CNN report. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent of all Christmastime deaths are due to natural causes — heart attacks, respiratory diseases, digestive problems, and the like.

While examining U.S. death certificates, UC San Diego sociologist David P. Phillips noticed that the paperwork seemed to pile up every year around the holidays. So he and his team pored over three decades' worth of death certificates and emergency room literature to try and figure out if the dreaded Christmas death spike was the real deal. Their conclusion: "There are holiday spikes for most major disease groups and for all demographic groups." (One noticeable exceptions: Children, who don't see a spike.)

Phillips and his team have a few theories why. Stress could certainly have something to do with it; the same with cold weather. One of the more frightening possibilities, of course, could simply be that hospitals are understaffed around the holidays, when health-care professionals are taking time off like everybody else to be with loved ones.

Coupled with that, the medical staff that are working over the Christmas period are likely to be stressed, tired and not at their best. It’s already widely known that, statistically, you’re more likely to die if you’re admitted to hospital on a weekend compared with a weekday, so this spike in mortality rates during the festive season isn’t really that surprising. But it’s not all bad news: medical negligence lawyers know that as well as bringing gifts at Christmas, Santa also brings plenty of work for the new year!

Besides all that, it’s not difficult to see why Christmas is such a dangerous time of the year. Risks lurk round every corner, accidents are aplenty and injuries inevitably ensue. There tends to be snow and ice underfoot (or flood waters of biblical proportions if recent Christmases in the UK are anything to go by), feasting to be done (which usually means burn injuries from hot cooking fat, scalds from overladen stoves and undercooked turkeys full of nasty e-coli just waiting to get you). There are Christmas decorations to trip up on, trees to topple over and squish you, and fairy lights, well past their prime, waiting to electrocute whichever unsuspecting victim ventures near. There are nuts and sweets to choke on (making it all the more surprising that children do not feature statistically as victims over Xmas) and newly-gifted power tools waiting to bite DIY-ers who are desperately out of practice.

And to top it all off, there’s the inevitable gloom of January just round the corner. Where’s all that festive cheer now, I wonder?

But ignore my miserable musings and the gloomy time of year. As the Cooperative food ads will no doubt be spouting soon: relax, Easter is just round the corner.

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