Christmas Elf & Safety Tips

IntroductionElf

East Dunbartonshire Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership Healthy Working Lives Groups have produced practical information and advice to help you over the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Not all of it will be relevant to you, but we hope there’s something for everyone and that you find something that you didn’t know before.

Please share it with family and friends, and hopefully we will all have a safe and happy festive season.

Cost of Living Support

The cost of living crisis is an ongoing concern - that’s why the Council pledged an additional £2.1million support package to help those most in need. Our local partners are also on hand with practical support and advice if you’re worried about how the rising costs will affect you. A list of support and organisations offering expert help

Christmas Food Safety Advice

Don’t be a turkey
From defrosting turkey to using leftovers, these food safety tips will help stop your turkey from knocking the stuffing out of you this Christmas.Turkey

Handy hygiene

  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after handling food, especially when handling and preparing raw meat and poultry.
  • Remember to wash and dry your hands after going to the toilet, touching the bin or touching any pets.
  • Bugs are spread between food,surfaces and utensils most effectively on wet or damp hands.

Avoid cross-contamination

  • Keep all raw food, whether it’s turkey or vegetables, separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • You should also use separate chopping boards for raw foods (e.g. raw meat and raw veg).
  • Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that spread easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.

Just chillin’

Store food that needs to be chilled in the fridge until you need it.

  • Make sure the fridge temperature is below 5°C.
  • Don’t pack food too tightly as cold air needs to circulate to cool food down.
  • If you’re storing food such as fresh vegetables outside in a garage or shed, keep them in a sealed container.

Turkey defrosting details

  • Defrost your turkey on a large dish and cover, preferably in the fridge.
  • Remove the giblets and the neck to speed up thawing.
  • Alternatively, defrost the turkey in a cool, clean place where the temperature is constant. Keep in mind that the temperature of where the turkey is kept will affect thawing times.
  • It can take up to 48 hours for a large turkey to thaw.
  • A turkey is fully defrosted when there are no ice crystals inside the cavity and the meat is soft when you insert a fork or skewer.
  • Once thawed, store it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it, but if this isn’t possible, you should cook it immediately.
  • To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging.

If there aren’t any defrosting instructions, use the following table as a guide:

Where is the turkey being defrosted?

Defrosting time

 In a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF)

 Allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg

 In a cool room (below 17.5ºC/64ºF)

 Allow about three to four hours per kg

 At room temperature (about 20ºC/68ºF)

 Allow about two hours per kg

Information for this section has been collated from the NHS healthy Living webpage.

More turkey talk

  • 80% of people say they wash their turkeys before cooking them – don’t do it!
  • Washing the bird significantly increases the risk of food poisoning by splashing germs around the kitchen.
  • Make sure your turkey is steaming hot all the way through before serving.
  • When you cut into the thickest part of the turkey none of the meat should be pink.
  • If juices flow out when you pierce the turkey or when you press the thigh, they should be clear.
  • If you’re using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird - between the breast and the thigh - reaches at least 70°C for two minutes.

Other birds are available

  • The oven should be hotter for duck and goose to melt the fat under the skin.
  • Goose should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/425ºF/ Gas Mark 7 for 35 mins per kg.
  • Duck should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 45 mins per kg.
  • Chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 45 mins per kg, plus 20 minutes.

Pamper your potatoes

  • Bacteria can be on the soil on your vegetables so give them a bath.
  • Don’t just hold them under a running tap, but rub them under water then rinse.
  • Washing loose vegetables is important as they tend to have more soil attached to them than if they are pre-packaged.

Know your dates

  • Sniffing food is not a reliable way of telling whether it is safe to eat as some harmful bacteria don’t always change the way food smells, tastes or looks.
  • Food with a ‘use-by’ date goes off quite quickly and it can be dangerous to eat after this date.
  • Food with a ‘best before’ date is longer-lasting and although it may not be at its best quality after this date it should be safe to eat.
  • Eggs can be eaten a day or two after their best before date as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake.

Don’t be a buffet buffoon

  • Cold items for a buffet should remain covered in the fridge until the last minute.
  • Don’t keep cold items out for more than four hours as they could be open to harmful bacteria if left to grow warm at room temperature.
  • Foods which are cooked and intended to be served cold should be cooled as quickly as possible, ideally within one to two hours.
  • Food can be cooled down faster by separating it into small batches, putting it in a container and placing the container in a shallow dish of cold water.

So… many... leftovers

  • Cool your leftovers as quickly as possible, ideally within 90 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.
  • Use leftovers within two days and reheat until they are steaming hot all the way through.
  • Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.
  • If you want to keep leftovers longer than two days, you can freeze them instead.
  • Cool leftovers as described above before putting them in the freezer.
  • Once defrosted, don’t refreeze leftovers unless you cook them again first.

Alcohol – Know the Risks

The health implications

Drinking heavily has been linked to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and liver disease. It is also linked to weight gain, mental health problems, sleep problems and fertility issues. By drinking more at Christmas time we are making ourselves more vulnerable to short and long-term health issues.

Low-risk guidelines are the same for men and women. Both are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. If you regularly drink 14 units per week, it’s best to spread your drinking over three or more days.

Staying within these recommended limits greatly decreases your chances of developing alcohol-related health issues.

NHS Scotland offers the following tips to help stay safe:

  • Stick to sensible limits.
  • Eat before and while you drink as food makes the body absorb alcohol more slowly - limiting how quickly it gets into the bloodstream.
  • Use soft drink ‘spacers’. Alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks. It’ll stop you getting dehydrated and lessen the effects of a hangover.
  • Check the strength and cut the quantity. Drink strengths vary widely between brands. Why not choose a lower alcohol option and consider cutting back?
  • Don’t drink every day as drinking too much alcohol damages the liver. It may repair itself, but you have to give it a chance. Have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
  • The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking in pregnancy can cause long-term harm to the baby. The more you drink, the greater the risk.
  • Mixing cocaine and alcohol creates a third substance in your body called cocaethylene which is thought to be more harmful and takes longer to leave the body.
  • Cocaine is particularly harmful to the heart. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and disrupts the heart’s electrical signals, causing it to beat rapidly or erratically. It also causes the muscles of the heart to thicken and the blood vessels to stiffen and constrict, making it more difficult to circulate blood normally. This can cause a heart attack.

Driving

You can be over the legal limit to drive after drinking less alcohol than you may think. If you’re out celebrating over the festive period, don’t drink if you’re driving. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving in a number of ways:

  • It slows your reactions
  • You have poorer judgement of speed and distance
  • It reduces your field of vision
  • It can make you feel over-confident so you’ll take more risks.

Be safe - avoid alcohol before you drive.

The facts:

  • The legal limit for driving changed on 5 December 2014 to 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, however, it’s very difficult to judge when you’ve reached that limit.
  • Alcohol affects us all differently as factors such as age, weight, how quickly your body breaks down chemicals, type of drink, the speed of drinking and the amount that you’ve eaten will all influence the level of alcohol in your blood.
  • Around half a million breath tests are carried out every year so there’s a good chance you’ll get caught.
  • If you’re found guilty of drink-driving you could lose your licence, get a £5,000 fine, be sentenced to up to six months in prison and pay increased rates for your car insurance.

Some tips:

  • Get a taxi.
  • If you’ve been drinking and plan to drive the next day, give it at least 12 hours for the alcohol to leave your system, but if you’ve drunk a lot, you may need even more time.
  • If you’re stopped and given a breath test the ‘morning after’, you will be treated in the same way as if you were caught the night before.

Safety issues

Did you know that people are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year? Also, more
than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the festive period. Alcohol is a key factor in these statistics. Drinking more, and more often, increases our vulnerability to injury so keep safe by staying within the recommended safe drinking levels and avoid doing relatively complex tasks such as cooking while under the influence.

Worried about alcohol?

Here are some useful numbers and websites:

Buying goods and shopping online

Make sure you purchase from a reputable trader because if there is a problem with the product or service you have purchased then it is more
likely to be resolved easily. Don’t buy counterfeit goods. If the price is too cheap then the likelihood is that the goods may be fake and are unlikely
to pass safety standards. Think about installing Vistalworks to help you filter out sellers of fake goods.

Consider shopping locally to support local businesses. If you are shopping online do your homework and check that the site is secure. Keep a copy of your order so that you can check that it’s correct. This is also useful in any dispute. In all cases consider using a credit card to pay for purchases where the value of the item purchased is over £100 as you have additional rights under S75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Buying gift vouchers is a popular alternative to giving cash, but be aware that businesses are not always obliged to accept vouchers at a later date.

What to do if things go wrong or the goods are faulty

Any good you purchase should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described, and services should be carried out with reasonable skill and care, and within a reasonable time. If the goods are faulty you have the right to reject the goods and get a refund within 30 days. Alternatively
you can ask the retailer to repair or replace the item within six months of purchase. Your rights against the retailer last for up to five years, but after
the first six months it’s up to you to prove that the fault was present at the time of purchase. Any manufacturer’s warranties or guarantees are in addition to these rights. If you need further advice contact your local Trading Standards Team on 0300 1234510 or email Trading Standards.

Don’t fake it

  • If you are buying a branded product make sure you buy the genuine product.
  • Look at the quality of the goods and think about whether the trader is likely to be an authorised supplier.
  • Counterfeits are usually poor quality and will not last like the real thing.
  • If you are in doubt that the product you are going to buy is genuine, don’t buy it!
  • Counterfeit alcohol and perfumes may seem like bargains but can have serious safety problems. Many people are allergic to substances used in the manufacture of counterfeit products and could experience ill-health.

Keeping Mind and Body Healthy

Darker mornings and evenings, and winter weather can make most people feel a bit gloomy. For some, theTwo adults and one child making a snow man thought of spending time with family and friends during the holiday season can brighten up these feelings. However, we know this year will be different. If you are finding these uncertain times hard, you are not alone!

Wrap up warm and get outdoors if you can! Half an hour of light-to-moderate walking daily is an ideal way to stay active. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of kindness and compassion, and the need to support each other through difficult times.

Here are some hints and tips that may help you to keep a healthier mind and body over the festive season.

  • Reach out for help as early as possible – especially with things like debt or finances. Make sure you are receiving all the benefits that you may be entitled to. There is a list at the end of this section with some useful phone numbers and websites that can help to support your mental health.
  • Setting goals - having something to work on is important for everyone. These may be small, but are really helpful for your mental health. Setting a to-do list can be motivational and rewarding.
  • Find the positives and use them – have you overcome challenges in the past? Think about how you did that and can you use these ‘strategies’ again?
  • Enjoy nature – we know the importance of being surrounded by nature and the positive effects that this has on our mental health. Step outside, look at the sky, listen to the birds or go for a walk. Getting out in the day, no matter the weather, can really help brighten mood.
  • How are you sleeping? Sleep is essential for our mental health. We need to be relaxed before we can sleep so try reducing screen time before bed. Listening to relaxing music and reading can help.

More hints and tips

  • Help others - if you can volunteer in your community, you can boost your mental health while helping others. Visit East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action's website.
  • Stay connected – whether that is work colleagues, friends or family - it’s important to stay connected. Make a special effort to keep in touch with people with people face to face, by phone or virtually. Give a friend or family member a call and brighten their day.
  • Do something for you - life is busy and it is easy to get caught up with work and family needs. However, this can lead to burnout. It is not selfish to take time out for you, it actually makes good sense. Do something that you enjoy and make a point of doing this regularly to recharge your batteries. Go on, give yourself a reward because you cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself.
  • Some people find this time of year difficult when quitting smoking so keep reminding yourself why you have stopped and if you need someone to talk to, call Quit Your Way Scotland on 0800 84 84 84 or chat online with a Quit Your Way Scotland Advisor.
  • Remember to stock up on medication as pharmacies and GP surgeries close over the festive period. Check with your local GP when they are closed.
  • Condoms can help prevent HIV, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. Free condoms are available to people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde. You can now order condoms securely and quickly online, and have them delivered free to your home in a discreet package. Order free condoms. For advice about your sexual and reproductive health, and how to make an appointment with visit the Sandyford Sexual Health Service's website.
  • Problems, worries and concerns do not go away over the festive season in fact, sometimes they may seem worse. If you need to talk to someone contact Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or Samaritans on 116 123. There is also a list of useful websites below.
  • You can also visit NHS Inform where you will find more information to help support your mental wellbeing. In addition, clear your head's website contains hints and tips on how to clear your head and look after yourself and others.

Visit breathingspace.scot's website
Contact samaritans
Visit SleepScotland's website
Visit The Mental Health Foundation's website

Supporting family and friends with dementia

Dementia can cause many changes in your life including how you celebrate Christmas, which makes it a challenging time for all those affected by the condition. There can be a lot of pressure to have a wonderful time, which can cause guilt and sadness for carers. Visit Alzheimer Scotland's website for more detailed information.

How To Stay Well In Winter

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition. Information on how to stay well this winter.

Who’s most at risk from cold weather?

Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:

  • people aged 65 and older
  • babies and children under the age of 5
  • people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
  • people who have a long-term health condition
  • people with a disability
  • pregnant women
  • people who have a mental health condition.

Get advice if you feel unwell

If you are 65 or over, or in one of the other at-risk groups, it’s important to get medical help as soon as you feel unwell. You can get help and advice from:
• a pharmacy – pharmacists can give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you need to see a doctor
• your GP – you may be able to speak to a GP online or over the phone, or go in for an appointment if they think you need to
• NHS 111 – 111 NHS online or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. The sooner you get advice, the sooner you are likely to get better.
 

Get a flu vaccine
Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill. It’s important to get the flu vaccine if you’re advised to. The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine later. Find out more about the:
adult flu vaccine
children’s flu vaccine 

Information:
If you’re 65 or over, you are also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumonia.

COVID-19 vaccination

The vaccine that will help protect you coronavirus this winter is available now for those that are eligible. NHS informs webpage outlines the COVID-19 vaccines you’re eligible for, and when and how you’ll be offered them by NHS Scotland.

Top Tips To Keep Warm For Less This Winter

With winter just around the corner, here are a few top tips from Home Energy Scotland to help keep you cosy for less. 

  1. If you are warm enough, try turning down your thermostat by one degree to save around £145 a year. For most, the lowest comfortable temperature to set your heating is between 18°C and 21°C (as advised by the World Health Organisation).
  2. Keep a gap between your radiators and furniture, make sure curtains aren’t hanging in front of radiators and remove radiator covers to get the most heat. Bleeding radiators to remove cold spots will also help them to work effectively.
  3. It costs less to set your heating to come on when you need it and just in the rooms that you are using, rather than keeping it on low all day.
  4. Install a full set of heating controls, including a thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves. The cost of installation in a typical semi-detached home that doesn’t have any controls is around £580 with annual savings of £180. If you already have a thermostat and programmer, installing thermostatic radiator valves could save £55 a year.
  5. Gas is still a cheaper fuel than standard rate electricity, so if you have gas central heating it is generally advisable to use this over individual electric heaters. The exception may be if you only want to heat a small area of a room for less than a few hours.

Help with heating costs

All UK households will receive a £400 payment October 2022 and March 2023 which will be paid directly to your energy provider or be given as vouchers if on a pre-payment meter. You do not have to pay this back. There is also additional grants for people who receive specific benefits Guidance - cost of living payment

Free impartial advice on saving energy, keeping warm at home, renewable energy and cutting water waste is available from Home Energy Scotland

The Home Heating Support Fund is available for Scottish households struggling with energy costs. 

Citizens Advice Bureau offers specific advice aimed at people struggling to pay their energy bills.

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or breathing (respiratory) problems, to make sure they:

  • safe and well
  • warm enough, especially at night
  • have stocks of food and medicines so they do not need to go out during very cold weather.

If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact the council on 0300 123 4510 or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1602 (8am to 7pm every day)

If you’re concerned the person may have hypothermia contact NHS 111.

Police Scotland

Herbert Protocol

The Herbert Protocol is an information gathering tool which is used to assist the police in finding a missing person living with Dementia, or other similar illness as quickly as possible. Particularly during the winter months with poor weather conditions and darker nights, the length of time for a safe search is reduced. The Herbert form contains a lot of useful information which can be provided to officers to save vital time in the missing person enquiry.

If you know anyone who you believe would benefit from this scheme, or you would like more information please contact Local Authority Liaison Officer Jordanne Watson on 0141 532 4473 or visit the Police Scotland website.

Tips for a safer night out:

  • Plan your night out in advance including how you will get home
  • Look after bags and valuables
  • Keep enough money to pay for your journey home
  • Use a trusted taxi company that you have used before, or arrange for a friend or family member to collect you
  • Stay alert at cash machines, be aware of who is behind you and keep money and your PIN out of view
  • Take a mobile phone with you and make sure it is fully charged
  • Stay with friends and don’t leave with strangers
  • If you feel very drunk or unwell after a small amount of alcohol then ask a trusted friend or a member of the club / pub management for help

DRUGS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Taking drugs comes with many health risks, from dependency to overdose and infections. It is safer not to use any illicit substances, however, if you do decide to use substances always check the information on the NHS Inform and CREW website. If you are concerned about your drug use and want to reduce the risks or have a family member / friend who uses drugs, it’s important to know more about the substances and how to get support.

Dealing with an overdose

When someone overdoses, it is important to get them help as soon as possible. Phone 999 right away. Ambulance paramedics have the tools to respond safely and if someone is experiencing a suspected opioid-related overdose, administering naloxone is a priority.

Overdose symptoms

Symptoms will vary with different drugs but some key signs and symptoms where it is important to call 999 are:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures or fitting
  • Rapid or low/undetectable heart rate
  • Chest pains

Naloxone

Naloxone is a medication that is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose (such as heroin, methadone or morphine).

Who can be supplied with take home naloxone:

Anyone in East Dunbartonshire who is aged 16 and over, including:

  • A person at risk
  • Carer, friend or family member of a service user at risk
  • Any individual working in an environment where there is a risk of overdose for which the naloxone may be useful
  • Anyone with an expired naloxone kit.

How to use the naloxone postal service:

You can order postal naloxone online and complete the application form.You will also need to complete a free Scottish Drugs Forum e-learning course or contact 0141 232 8211 to access local training (if available).

For additional information on:

  • The postal naloxone service
  • East Dunbartonshire Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service (ADRS)
  • How to access the ADRS online referral form (self-referral or refer someone else)

 

Visit East Dunbartonshire’s Health and Social Care webpage or call ADRS on 0141 232 8211.

Staying Safe Outdoors

The Scottish canals are enjoyed safely by walkers, joggers, boaters, canoeists and cyclists all year round.

With colder weather creeping in, however, there’s more reason to take care near the canals, particularly on icy and frosty days. Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can be particularly slippery during the winter months and snow can conceal trip hazards such as boat mooring rings close to the water’s edge. Don’t attempt to drive your boat through ice, as this is a hazard to your own boat and others.

Frozen waterways, whilst incredibly picturesque, can also be very dangerous and visitors should never attempt to walk on the canal. The ice can be very thin in places, with freezing cold water moving in currents beneath the surface. Be careful of ledges and water channels. Children in particular should always be accompanied by an adult when they visit the canals and should be made aware of the potential hazards. Obstacles can lurk just below the surface and even experienced swimmers can easily get into difficulties.

Pets should also never be followed out onto the ice. Animals are far more likely to make it back onto dry land safely and owners only jeopardise both themselves and their pets by stepping onto the ice. Spending time outdoors has become more important than ever before. Everyone wants to see our countryside, and enjoy our waterways and coastline.

Winter walking tips for ScotlandMan pulling a sled with two bags on it.

It may be cold outside, but that’s no excuse to stay inside when you could be enjoying Scotland’s amazing outdoors! A brisk walk of 30 minutes five days a week (or 60 minutes for children) is the best way to meet recommended levels of physical activity. Have a look at our walking tips before you go to make sure you get the most out of going for a walk in the winter.

Safety

If you’re heading into the hills, check the forecast before you set out (two good sources are the Mountain Weather Information Service and the Met Office) – snow, rain, mist or fog and cold temperatures are the obvious hazards but strong winds can be a problem too.

Scottish mountains in winter conditions can be very challenging. Make sure you know when ice axe and crampons are needed and how to assess avalanche conditions.

In winter the Scottish Avalanche Information Service gives details of snow conditions.

Equipment & clothing

  • Wear comfortable clothes and sturdy, comfortable footwear suitable for the conditions and terrain.
  • Several thin layers of clothing are better than one thick layer. You can take off layers as you warm up, or add them if you get cold.
  • Take a good waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers.
  • Wear a hat and gloves, and take a scarf – the Scottish wind can find its way into every gap!
  • A small backpack is more comfortable to walk with than an ordinary bag.
  • For longer walks, take food with you or high energy snacks like flapjack, chocolate or dried fruit and nuts, and possibly a flask with a hot drink.
  • Consider taking a mobile phone (charged and switched on) and/or make sure someone knows where you’ve gone and when you expect to be back.
  • Consider wearing some reflective clothing if you are walking on roads after dark and remember to walk facing the traffic.
  • A watch is always handy as a back up to your mobile phone.

Staying Safe at Home this Festive Season

All of us have had to spend more time at home this year and with the festive season approaching it’s a good time of year to double check that you are following the latest home safety guidance.

Toys

When buying toys make sure they are age appropriate. Toys for children under three years of age should have no small parts detachable without the use of tools as this would be a choking hazard. Make sure you buy from a reputable trader and that you dispose of packaging safely. Remember Christmas novelties are not toys and don’t have to comply with toy safety regulations so make sure you keep them out of reach of little fingers.

Batteries

Lots of toys and household appliances contain small batteries. Small coin cell batteries the size of a 5p piece can be deadly if your child swallows one.

You will be surprised to find them in everyday items such as headsets, car keys and digital thermometers. Look round your home for them and put them out of reach of little fingers. Make sure you dispose of used batteries too as they can still pose a risk.

Visit The Child Accident Prevention Trust's website for further details and other ways to keep little ones safe.

Or check out this Youtube video on things around the home that contain batteries 

Plan ahead where possible, and install batteries and build toys in advance to reduce the chances of batteries and tools being mixed in with the gifts on Christmas morning.

Extension leads

Most people have extension leads in their homes and use them to increase the number of appliances that they can plug into a wall socket, especially at Christmas. However, although there is space to plug in four appliances, this does not mean it’s always safe to do so. You should never overload an extension lead by plugging in appliances that together will exceed the maximum current rating stated for the extension lead. This could cause the plug in the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire.

Use the Electrical Safety First overload calculator to check this out.

Christmas lights

After 12 months packed away in a loft, Christmas lights can easily become unsafe so look out for loose wires and check they are not damaged or broken before use. Make sure you only use replacement bulbs of the same type and rating as the ones originally supplied with the lights and replace any failed lamps immediately to prevent overheating. Always switch the lights off and unplug them before you go to bed at night. Lastly, keep them away from flammable decorations and things that burn easily.

Candles

Don’t leave burning candles unattended - put them out before going to bed and never put candles on Christmas trees. Keep lighters and matches out of reach. Keep candle out of drafts, and away from little ones and inquisitive pets. Don’t move candles whilst they are burning and keep candles at least three inches apart from each other when lit.

Safely buying and using electrical goods

Never leave children alone near cookers and remember that children need parental supervision around any electrical appliance.

Keep cords out of reach, especially those connected to hot items such as toasters and irons, and unplug appliances that get hot - such as irons and hair straighteners - immediately after use and store out of reach.

Register new appliances and check for recalls on existing appliances

Fire Safety

At home

  • Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Unplug or switch off portable heaters when you go out or go to bed.
  • Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector in all rooms containing gas or paraffin heaters or where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves) or a flue.
  • Never leave an electric blanket switched on when you’re in bed unless it’s marked ‘suitable for all night use.
  • Check your electric blanket, plug and flex regularly for damage. If you’re in any doubt, don’t use the blanket.
  • Unplug fairy lights or other electrical Christmas decorations when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Extinguish all candles before you go to bed. Never leave a burning candle in a bedroom.
  • Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which can get hot enough to melt plastic. Always put candles on a heat resistant surface/holders.
  • Leaving cookers unattended or being distracted while cooking is the most frequent cause of fire in the home. Never cook hot food while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you have at least one heat alarm in every kitchen in your home.
  • Do not smoke in bed
  • Don’t forget to check smoke alarms/ Carbon monoxide alarms once a week and have a fire plan that all your household are aware of
  • Most fatal fires are caused by smoker’s materials. Don’t smoke in your chair if you’ve been drinking or you’re feeling tired. If you do feel tired, smoke outside or stand up and smoke at a window or outside door.
  • Check your smoke and heat alarms are working. Replace batteries if necessary.

GET YOUR FREE HOME FIRE SAFETY VISIT

We want to make sure your home is as safe from fire as it can be. During a Home Fire Safety Visit the Fire Service help you spot possible fire hazards, sort out a fire escape plan and provide information about smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms. The process only takes about 20 minutes, and their advice and help could save your life.

call 0800 0731 999

text ‘FIRE’ to 80800

call your local fire station 

complete the online form 

At work

Follow these few simple steps to make sure your work place is fire safe this winter.

  • Keep your Fire Safety Risk Assessment under review and revise where necessary.
  • All staff, including temporary staff, must be fully aware of the fire routine for the premises.
  • For the safety of your staff and customers, ensure that all exits are kept clear excess stock.
  • Don’t allow rubbish to build-up and empty refuse containers regularly.
  • Secure bins away from buildings and avoid blocking fire exits.
  • Make sure security staff have keys to access lock-fast areas of your premises and that the keyholder list is up to date.
  • If your premise is fitted with sprinklers, ensure that the stock is not too close to sprinkler heads; this practice can make the sprinkler system less effective.
  • Check fire shutters and smoke curtains, if fitted, are not blocked by clothes rails or stock.
  • Ensure your fire alarm system and fire extinguishers are maintained, and that fire alarm call points, signs and notices and firefighting equipment are free from obstruction.

 

Using electric blankets

  • Never leave an electric blanket switched on when you’re in bed unless it’s marked ‘suitable for all night use’.
  • Ensure your electric blanket is tested and serviced in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance, in particular after the guarantee runs out. Manufacturers often recommend testing blankets every three years.
  • Check the blanket, plug and flex regularly for damage (e.g. fraying fabric, scorch marks, exposed wires). If you’re in any doubt, don’t use the blanket.
  • Store electric blankets safely – roll them, don’t fold them.

Wood burning/solid fuel stoves

Every year, the Fire Service respond to a number of incidents involving these heating systems. Chimneys and flues serving solid fuel appliances should be swept regularly. Check our chimney sweeping section for guidelines regarding the fuel used. Only use the fuel recommended by the solid fuel appliance manufacturer. Approved fuel lists are available from HETAS website or Tel: 0845 634 5626. Household refuse must not be burnt.

  • Use well-seasoned, air-dried (preferably a minimum of 6-12 months) wood. Use a wood moisture meter to test your wood before burning. A recommended moisture level for firewood should be 20% or lower.
  • Do not run the appliance at low output for long periods such as overnight. Do not damp down to save relighting in the morning.
  • If the wood burner has been used at a low output for a long period this should be followed by a controlled high burn for at least 30 minutes to dry out any creosote and to warm up the chimney again.
  • Always ensure you follow the operating and maintenance instructions provided with the appliance.
  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the stove, boiler or heater. The Fire and Rescue Service have been called to fires caused as a result of logs being stored against the hot external surface of wood burners.
  • Children should be educated about the dangers of fire and should not be permitted near hot surfaces.
  • Use a protective fire guard that is suited to the design of the stove within your property.
  • Empty and check the ash can every day.
  • Always use a metal non-combustible ash can.
  • Flue ways at the back of a boiler should be cleaned once a week, but always let the fire go out and allow ashes to cool before cleaning.
  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning

  • Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood, oil and gas can cause CO poisoning.
  • You should have a carbon monoxide detector fitted in any room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves) or a flue.
  • Being able to recognise the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will save your life.
  • These symptoms are similar to flu, with nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach and chest pains all key indicators.
  • Since October 2010, a carbon monoxide detector is mandatory with every new stove installation.

Remember a carbon monoxide detector is NOT a substitute for regular maintenance and chimney sweeping.

When using portable heaters:

  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Unplug or switch off portable heaters when you go out or go to bed.
  • Secure portable heaters in position to avoid the risk of them being knocked over.
  • Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas. Heaters consume oxygen and in enclosed spaces can produce harmful gases and/or cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Fit a Carbon Monoxide detector in all rooms containing gas or paraffin heaters.
  • Never use portable gas cylinder heaters in high rise flats.
  • Always change gas cylinders in the open air. Never change gas cylinders in an enclosed space.

Winter Road Safety

Winter means changes in the roads, shorter days and changing weather. We all have a responsibility to keep Scotland’s roads safe during the winter months.

Advice for pedestrians

  • Dress for the weather by wearing reflective or bright-coloured clothing so other road users can see you when it’s dark or visibility is poor.
  • If you are walking home late at night, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when.
  • Vehicles can take up to ten times longer to stop on slippery road surfaces so take extra care crossing the road.
  • Stick to pedestrian crossings.
  • If there are no crossings nearby, find a place with a clear view and wait for long gaps in the traffic before crossing the road.
  • Don’t cross the road between parked vehicles, unless it can’t be avoided then take extra care (look out for vehicles that suddenly pull out or reverse).
  • Never cross the road behind a bus.
  • If there is no pavement, keep to the right hand side of the road so you can see traffic coming towards you.

Advice for cyclists

  • Make sure your bike can be seen by people on the road.
  • Use a good set of front and rear lights (white at the front, red at the back).
  • Wear clothes that help you be seen on your bike, such as bright and light reflective items.
  • Pay attention to road signs, markings and particularly red lights.
  • Do not cycle on the pavements, they may be slippery and can also endanger pedestrians.
  • Be mindful of the effects poor weather can have on other road users.
  • Make sure you know about the dangers around you.
  • Cars can take twice as long to stop in wet weather.
  • Braking can be unpredictable in ice and snow.

Advice for drivers

  • Make sure your car is ready for winter.
  • Check that your tyres, brakes, windscreens, wiper blades and windows are free from defects and clean.
  • Drive to the road conditions. Road conditions can change without warning, stopping distances will be affected by the weather.
  • Make sure your windows are clean and aren’t misted up.
  • Make sure there is no snow and ice on your windows before you drive.
  • When the roads are icy, drive at a slow speed in a high gear.
  • Accelerate and brake very gently.
  • Driving distracted (for example, using a Sat Nav) can cause additional stress. It is dangerous to yourself, passengers and other road users.

Winter Driving Advice

East Dunbartonshire Council is part of the national ‘Ready for Winter?’ campaign and you will find a wealth of information on the you'll find a wealth of information on our Get Ready for Winter page.

The following tips are designed to keep you safe on the road.

On the road

Prepare your vehicle. Make sure your car is ready for winter by carrying out some basic checks now. Ideally, get your car a Winter service, if not:

  • Check the anti-freeze and oil levels
  • Checks lights are working
  • Make sure your car has plenty of windscreen wash, to the right winter concentration, and wiper blades are working
  • Check tyre treads –they may save your life in poor conditions
  • Get your brakes checked.

Kit out your car with the following items

  • A warm blanket
  • Emergency food and drink
  • A torch
  • A shovel
  • De-icer and scraper
  • Tow rope
  • Mobile phone – make sure it’s charged.

Be especially careful when driving during the festive season as there is an increased risk of tired or drunk drivers being on the roads.

Anti-Social Behaviour

We want you to have a great festive period spending time and socialising with family and friends, but please remember to be considerate of others and respectful of your surroundings.

  • Be responsible and have a safe festive season by:
  • Always being considerate of your actions and the actions of your family and friends on others who may live nearby or who are enjoying time in the same area
  • Being mindful of your surroundings. Shouting, swearing, rowdy behaviour and loud music may be fun for you, however, may cause fear, alarm and distress to others
  • Binning your litter when you leave - be kind to our environment and keep Scotland beautiful
  • Keeping your dog on the lead and under control
  • Never carrying a weapon. If caught, you will be arrested and prosecuted
  • Criminal records for violence make it harder to get into college or university as well as going on holiday
  • Remembering that violent crime can affect anyone and innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people’s disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.

If you know or suspect someone who is responsible for anti-social behaviour, you can speak up 100% anonymously by contacting our partners at Fearless.

Remembering that violent crime can affect anyone and innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people’s disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.

Keeping Children Safe Online

The Internet has revolutionised and changed how we communicate and socialise with people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With access at our fingertips it can be challenging to keep children and young people safe online, especially when they have their own computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets and games consoles.

As a parent, carer or a professional it is important to educate yourself, children and young people on the opportunities provided by this technology and also the associated risks.

Potential online risks include:

  • Access and exposure to inappropriate / disturbing images and content
  • Access and exposure to racist or hate material
  • Sexual grooming, luring, abuse and exploitation by/with strangers
  • Sharing personal information with strangers that could identify and locate a child offline
  • Online bullying (cyber bullying) by peers and people considered their ‘friends’
  • Being encouraged take part in violent behaviour such as ‘happy slapping’
  • Sending or receiving sexually explicit films, images or messages of themselves or others (this is known as sexting when sent by mobile phone)
  • Glorifying activities such as drug taking or excessive drinking
  • Physical harm to young people in making video content, such as enacting and imitating stunts and risk taking activities
  • Leaving and running away from home as a result of contacts made online.

Project 101 support young people in East Dunbartonshire 

If you are from East Dunbartonshire, aged 14-25 years old and experiencing housing or homelessness issues Project 101 may be able to help you. Project 101 can provide you with information and advice and signpost you to other agencies who may also be able to help. If you feel you are ready to leave home, Project 101 staff will provide information and advice on how to prepare for the realities of running your own home.

Including the following:

  • Housing options
  • Housing Associations applications
  • Completing application forms
  • Accessing private rented accommodation
  • Linking you to other agencies
  • Budgeting
  • Budget cooking and independent living skills
  • Accessing employment opportunities
  • Coping with living on your own
  • Assisting you in keeping your tenancy

All young people are entitled to One-to-one support to help advise you on making the right decisions and assist you with any housing related issues you may be having.

Project 101 understand the difficulties independent living can be personally, mentally, emotionally and financially and with the cost of living increasing.

A social media campaign featuring Project 101’s seasonal member of the team ‘The elf’, will be running competitions, providing advice on how to budget, cope with low feelings and being overwhelmed. As well as this you’ll find seasonal recipes and food packs if you require improving some of your kitchen skills. The elf on the shelf will run throughout December on

All young people are entitled to One-to-one support to help advise you on making the right decisions and assist you with any housing related issues you may be having.

Project 101 understand the difficulties independent living can be personally, mentally, emotionally and financially and with the cost of living increasing.

A social media campaign featuring Project 101’s seasonal member of the team ‘The elf’, will be running competitions, providing advice on how to budget, cope with low feelings and being overwhelmed. As well as this you’ll find seasonal recipes and food packs if you require improving some of your kitchen skills. The elf on the shelf will run throughout December on Project 101 EDC on Facebook.

Useful links

Visit Clearyourhead's website

Visit Food Standards Agency's website for advice on food safety

Visit Alcohol Focus Scotland's website

Visit NHS Inform Scotland's website

Visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust's website

Visit Electrical Safety First website for advice on safety around the house

Visit Register My Appliance's website to register now

Visit NHS Sandyford's website for information on free condoms

Visit Samaritans Scotland's website

Visit SleepsScotland's website

Visit Mental Health Foundation's website

Keeping your child safe

There are several ways to help keep children and young people safe online:

  • Educate yourself and children and young people about the dangers online
  • Tell them what they should do if anything goes wrong online or upsets them i.e. tell someone about it
  • Explain that anything shared online or by mobile phone could end up being seen by anyone
  • Ensure computers and laptops are used where you can see and not out of sight in a bedroom
  • Use parental settings, filtering software and privacy setting to block inappropriate sites and content.

Thinkuknow is an award winning on and offline safety programme for children and young people, professionals and parents that has been developed by the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command.

Delivered through a network of 100,000 qualified professionals across the UK, Thinkuknow provides accurate informative, age appropriate advice and guidance about relationships, sex and Internet safety to help prevent children and young people from becoming victims of abuse or exploitation. 

The programme’s innovative and engaging films, cartoons, websites and lesson plans aim to help teachers, youth workers, police officers and health professionals to explore difficult and sensitive issues safely with children and young people.

Useful Sites For Further Information And Advice:

NSPCC - National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children: Advice and support for adults concerned about a child.

green christmas treeCEOP - Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre: Organisation that works to stop child abuse on the internet.

Childnet: Information on benefits, risks and safety on the internet.

Which?: Information and advice on child internet safety.

Cyber Scotland: collaboration of key strategic stakeholders, brought together to focus efforts on improving cyber resilience across Scotland in a coordinated and coherent way.

UK Safer Internet Centre UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading charities with a mission to make the internet a better place for children and young people.

Cyber Safe Scotland Experts in online child protection, working with schools, parents and local authorities to protect children in Scotland and around the world from online exploitation and abuse.

Police Scotland Advice on a range of different online topics including romance fraud, sextortion, social media, internet dating, cybercrime, online shopping and keeping safe online.

SWGFL Safe, Secure, Online A charity dedicated to empowering the safe and secure use of technology through innovative services, tools, content and policy, nationally and globally.

Children 1st Children 1st is Scotland’s National Children’s Charity

Parent Club Parent Club offers up-to-date guidance from the Scottish Government on children’s health and education. It is full of hints and tips from other parents and carers who have been there before. It also has advice to help you look after your own wellbeing and to point you in the direction of the support available.