In 2002, 1000 people in the UK were estimated to have visited A & E departments after home accidents involving Christmas trees and 350 people after home accidents involving Christmas lights. In 2011/12, candles sparked around 1000 UK house fires resulting in 9 Deaths and 388 casualties. Fairy lights went up in smoke causing 20 fires, while Christmas trees, decorations and cards were also a fire risk and responsible for 47 house fires, leading to non - fatal casualties across the UK. In summary: Christmas is a time when your home is likely to be full of people and it is in the excitement of the season that accidents can easily happen. One of the good things about Christmas is that there are typically more people around to supervise the children and, with a little more care and forward planning, most accidents could be avoided. Safety tips for the home at Christmas Follow these tips to help prevent your festivities being cut short by a trip to casualty: • Falls are the most common accidents so try to keep clutter to a minimum. • Make sure stairs are well lit up and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests. • Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings. Don’t leave burning candles unattended. • Look out for small items that would pose a choking hazard to young children, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons. • Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them. That way you won’t be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms. • Make sure you buy children’s gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards (eg. The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011. • Remember Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with the safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them, for example, place them high upon Christmas trees where they are out of reach of young hands. • Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions. Article written by Charlie Howes, Emergency CareNI

Christmas ideas for your Family

1                     Take a walk around the town and look at all the Christmas Lights

2                     Watch a Christmas Film together and eat popcorn

3                     Make a hot chocolate drink with marshmallows and sprinkles

4                     Read some stories about the birth of Jesus (Join the Sure Start Library, there are lots of Christmas story books               and dvd’s to borrow)

5                     Make a Christmas ornament together as a family.  (some ideas below)

6                     If you can spare the cash, buy an extra gift and take to a charity Christmas tree

7                     Go to the Little Hands Surestart Christmas Event on Friday 16th December in Brooke Park.  Meet Santa and have           a photo taken with him.  (Sure Start organise this every year for the families in our community)

8                     Visit an elderly relation or neighbour to check they are warm and safe in their home.

Santa Ornaments

You will need

Cork         Red & pink Paint     Ribbon     Red Card/Felt material        Cotton wool     Scissors      Pen      Glue     Glass/tumbler

What to do

Paint 1/3 cork pink & 2/3 cork red

Using Glass/Tumbler draw a circle on card/Felt, Cut circle into three. Use1/3 of circle card/felt for hat

Tie knot on ribbon, then place at corner of card/felt. Glue two straight sides of card/felt together, leaving one side open.

When glued card/felt should look like cone with ribbon on top.

Unroll cotton wool, tearing a long strip of rim of hat. Cut triangle shape from cotton wool for beard & finally roll small piece of cotton wool into ball for bobble at top of hat.  Glue all of the wool pieces to cork.

Draw eyes & nose using pen. Attach to tree using ribbon

Button Wreath

Threading buttons onto pipe cleaners to make a button wreath is fun (and it's good for fine motor skills too!)

You will need: Pipe cleaner, Buttons, Ribbon 


Thread the pipe cleaner in and out through the two holes of each button, spacing the buttons as you go.

Bend into a circle, then twist the top of the circle together to secure the buttons in place. Tie a ribbon bow around the top on the wreath.

That's it, you are done - and your button wreath is ready to display! Tie another loop of ribbon or cord, or attach another piece of pipe cleaner as a loop, to hang it up if you wish.

Flu Season Ahead

What is Flu?

Influenza or flu, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus.  Flu is highly contagious and is usually spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person.  You can also catch flu by touching an infected person i.e. shaking hands.  Adults are contagious 1 to 2 days before showing symptoms and for up to 7 days after becoming ill.  This means you can spread the flu virus before you even know you are infected.

So, what is a flu epidemic?  Put simply, it is a sudden outbreak of the virus spreading rapidly and affecting many people at the same time. Many of these flu epidemic cases can be mild, especially if caught early enough to treat with antivirals, like Tamiflu.   Measures can be taken to protect yourself and are outlined below.

The Common Cold

What’s the difference between a ‘common cold’ and flu?  Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat.  A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold and has a sudden onset.  As short as a few hours in most cases.

Flu Symptoms

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.  Healthy individuals usually recover with 2 to 7 days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation or permanent disability, but only in extreme cases.

Treatment and Prevention

Resting and taking over-the-counter preparations such as paracetamol and consuming plenty of fluids will help.  Anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay at home until they feel better, so they do not infect others.  You can help reduce the spread of all viruses by encouraging good personal hygiene.  Think, frequent handwashing with soap and water, covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and using a tissue when possible.  Cleaning hard surfaces, i.e. door handles, frequently using your usual cleaning product is also important.  Antibiotics will not be effective against the flu, only against any secondary infection that may develop, and repeated use of antibiotics can also lead to an antibiotic resistance.

Stop the spread. Flu can spread quite easily between people.

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Who is eligible for Sure start Maternity Grant?

A Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500 paid to families on a low income to help with the costs of a new baby. You do not have to repay it, it is not affected by any savings you may have and it does not affect other benefits you receive.

Please note:

You will only be able to apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant for your first baby unless:

*        you are expecting twins or a multiple birth - you will receive £500 for each baby

*        you are expecting twins or a multiple birth and already have a child under 16 - you will receive £500 for one of the twins or £500 x 2 if expecting triplets

*        you are claiming on behalf of an under 16 year old as their parent/carer (or 20 if they are in f/t further education)

Who can apply?

You can get a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you or your partner receives any of the following:

*        Income Support;

*        Income based Jobseekers Allowance;

*        Income related Employment and Support allowance;

*        Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than the family element.

*        Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award.

When to apply

You can apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant from week 29 of your pregnancy or up to 3 months after your baby is born. YOU CANNOT APPLY AFTER THIS TIME. If you or your partner are working you may need to wait until after your baby is born to know whether you can claim Child Tax Credit at a higher rate than the family element and therefore be eligible. You may like to phone the ask helpline to help you calculate if this is going to be the case so you can have everything ready for your application before your baby is born.

You may also find you can get a higher Tax Credit award and therefore become eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant by having your Tax Credit award based on your income in the current tax year rather than the previous tax year. For more information about this see our Tax Credit pages or phone the ask helpline 08457 858072

How to apply

You can collect a Sure Start Maternity Grant form from your local Jobcentre Plus or download one from or phone Jobcentre Plus Social Fund on 0845 603 6967. (Or from your Local Sure Start Midwife) This form can be returned to Jobcentre Plus or posted to Wembley Benefit Delivery Centre, P.O. Box 110, London SW95 9EA. We would recommend that you always photocopy forms before sending them and send them by recorded delivery.

Please Note: If your baby is nearly 3 months and you are still waiting to hear about your Tax Credit award you may need to apply for your Sure Start Maternity Grant and tick the box which states you are waiting to hear about your Tax Credits; you will then be given extra time to prove your eligibility.

If you are not sure if you might be entitled to a Sure Start Maternity Grant please phone the ask helpline on 08457 585072 and speak to an Information Worker.

If you want to track the progress of your Sure Start Maternity Grant application phone Jobcentre Plus Social Fund 0845 603 6967.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the “silent killer” because you cannot see, hear, smell or taste it. It results from the burning of gas and other fuels, including wood, coal and oil. It can build up to dangerous levels if a fuel-burning appliance is incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained, or if flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.

To reduce the risk of CO poisoning:

  • For gas appliances, use an engineer registered through Gas Safe Register ( for installation and annual services. Always check that an engineer’s capabilities, which are listed on the back of his or her identity card, include the job you want doing. If you live in rented property, ask your landlord to show you the property’s gas safety certificate
  • Consult your fuel supplier or professional heating engineer for the regular servicing of other fuel-burning appliances
  • Rooms should be well ventilated and chimneys or flues swept regularly
  • Fit an audible CO alarm, but remember this should be in addition to the other actions
  • Know the signs of CO poisoning, which include: in your family (particularly children and the elderly, and maybe even your pets) - prolonged flu-like symptoms; gas appliances burning with orange, instead of blue, flames; sooty stains on or near appliances; excessive condensation in the room; and coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out.

Button Batteries

Keeping Children Safe from Button Batteries


Button batteries and lithium coin batteries are the small, round batteries that are found in lots of toys and everyday objects.  They can be extremely dangerous for children if swallowed – especially lithium coin batteries – and can kill within hours.

Why are Button batteries Dangerous?

Most button batteries pass through the body without a problem.  But if a button battery, particularly a lithium coin battery, gets stuck in the throat or gullet, energy from the battery can make the body create caustic soda (the chemical used to unblock drains).

This can burn a hole through the throat and lead to serious internal bleeding and death.

Lithium coin batteries are the most dangerous as the higher voltage means more energy is released, creating more caustic soda.  The reaction can happen in as little as two hours.

All button batteries are very dangerous if they get stuck in a child’s ear or nose.


Where can you find Button batteries?

Button Batteries are used in a wide range of toys, gadgets and other everyday objects you’ll find around the house.  Lots of these objects have buttons and surfaces that young children love to explore and play with.  Many are brightly coloured or otherwise appealing to children.  These include:

  • Small remote controls
  • Car key fobs
  • Calculator
  • Thermometers
  • Hearing aids
  • Digital scales
  • Musical cards
  • Novelty toys
  • Watches
  • Flameless candles and nightlights

Who is at risk?

It’s not just babies and toddlers, who put everything in their mouths, who are at risk from button batteries.  Older children can be fascinated by them too.

In some cases, they may deliberately put a button battery in their mouth or on their tongue to experience the sensation of the electrical charge.

Children’s Toys

Batteries in children’s toys are covered by safety regulations and should be enclosed by a screw and secure.  Toys from markets or temporary ships may not follow safety regulations.  Remember that older children may be able to open secure battery compartments.

How can I keep Children Safe?

  • Keep products with batteries well out of reach if the battery compartment isn’t secured with a screw.
  • Keep all spare batteries out of children’s reach and sight, ideally in a high-up, lockable cupboard.
  • Avoid toys from markets or temporary shops as they may not conform to safety regulations.
  • Teach older children that button batteries are dangerous and not to play with them or give them to younger brothers and sisters.
  • Remember that even used batteries can be dangerous, so recycle them safely.

If an accident happens

Unfortunately, it may not be obvious that a battery is stuck in a child’s throat.  They may be breathing normally, or simply develop cold or flu like symptoms.

If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, act fast.

  • Take them straight to the A&E Department of your local hospital or dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Tell the Doctor there that you think you child has swallowed a button battery
  • Do not let your child eat or drink
  • Do not make them sick
  • Do not wait to see if symptoms develop

Source: Child Accident Prevention Trust

Lunchbox Ideas

Lunchbox Ideas

1. Tummy fillers

Growing children need plenty of starchy foods to fill them up and give them energy. Nutritious meals packed with fibre, protein, carbohydrate and vitamins will also help your child's growing bones and give them a healthy dose of brain power for the afternoon ahead.

These along with fruit and/or vegetables should form the main part of your child's lunch.

Try some of these ideas:

Sandwiches and wraps

Homemade bread - vary between wholemeal, granary, multi-grain and white

Crepe/pancake, potato cake, malt loaf, hot cross bun, scone


Meat - wafer thin cooked meats, cubed chicken/turkey breast with tomato and lettuce, ham and cheese, roast chicken & hummus, leftover cold meats (chicken, turkey, meatloaf, sausages etc) with salad, chicken and mashed avocado, cold BLT.

Fish - tuna mayo & sweetcorn, tuna salad, sardine and tomato, fish paste and cucumber.

Veggie - grated cheese, cheese spread, cream cheese, Quorn slices and salad, cottage cheese with pineapple, cheese and grated carrot with a little mayo, veggie sausages, vegetarian pate with cucumber, cheese and coleslaw, egg salad/egg mayo, cheese and pickle, Marmite.

Sweet  High-fruit jam/fruit spread, nut-free chocolate spread*, honey, treacle, lemon curd.

*Please note that some schools do not permit nuts and nut products to be brought in lunchboxes (due to pupils with nut allergies), so check with your school before including nut products.

Other ideas

Carbohydrate based salads such as pasta salad, rice salad, cous cous, potato salad, etc.

Egg based foods such as quiche, mini quiche or frittata.

Baked items such as savoury muffin, cheesy corn trianglespizza slice, mini pastycheese and potato roll, croissant, samosa, pakora, spring roll etc*

On cold days why not pack a flask of soup to warm up little tummies?

*These items can be high in saturated fat, so just opt for them occasionally. 

2. Five-a-day options

Any combination of the following, in a small pot or bag: raisins, sultanas, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, ready to eat dried apricots, dates or prunes.

Whole fruits - satsuma, apple, banana, pear, peach, plum, grapes, strawberries (whatever is in season) 

Fruit salad pot - any combination of prepared fruit: strawberries, orange, melon, mango, pineapple, kiwi etc.

Homemade fruit puree, smoothie or apple sauce (you can add strawberry, peach, etc)

Fruit jelly made with fruit pieces and pure fruit juice.

Tinned fruit, in own juice, not syrup (useful in the winter if you can't find ripe fresh fruit) - mandarins, pineapple, peaches, fruit salad, pears.

Salad pot - any combination of prepared raw vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, pepper, celery, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, mangetout, slices of avocado sprinkled with a little lemon juice etc. or coleslaw

 3. Good for growing bones

Fruit yogurt, fromage frais or dairy-free alternative.

Cold rice pudding or custard.

Greek/plain yogurt.

Cubes of cheese or pre-packed lunchbox sized cheese portion, cottage cheese with pineapple.

Dips: hummus, tzatziki, raita, cream cheese and plain yogurt.

4. Snacks

If you have energetic children, you may like to add a snack to their lunchboxes to re-fuel their energy levels!

Savoury options - Hard boiled chicken's or quail's eggs, scotch/savoury egg, mini sausages, sausage roll, falafel etc

Small bag of lower salt (preferably baked or reduced fat) crisps, or a handful of crisps in a pot. Crackers, crisp bread, rice cakes, cheesy biscuits, savoury flapjack, savoury scone, bread sticks, unsalted popcorn. 

Sweet options -Muffincupcakesmall piece of cakebiscuit or cookieflapjackshortbread, jam tart, cereal bar*

*Check cereal/flapjack bars for sugar content, as some can contain as much sugar as a bar of chocolate!  

5. Thirst-quenchers 

Steer clear of sugary drinks and go for one of these healthy options:

A note about sugar free options

Sugar can be hard to spot in children's food, as it's called many different things. All the following are forms of sugar, which is only needed in small amounts and offers your child little, except empty calories: sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, fruit syrup, molasses.

Look for 'no added sugar' on the packet. If you can't see that on a label, then read the Nutritional Information panel and look under 'Carbohydrates - of which Sugar'.

But do be aware that products stating 'no added sugar' normally use chemical sweeteners, some of which are being investigated for safety.


Healthy Lunches

Ideas for Healthy Lunches for your children


  • 1 x whole Pitta bread filled with 2tbsp reduced fat hummus & then halved
  • Red and yellow pepper sticks
  • Small chunk of reduced fat cheese cut into cubes.
  • 1 pear
  • Bottle of water


  • Granary bread (sliced or roll) filled with low-fat spread, slice ham and tomato
  • Small plastic tub full of grapes and blueberries
  • Pot low fat fromage frais
  • Bottle of water


  • Salad made from whole wheat pasta, skinless chicken, cherry tomatoes and peas (put into a plastic tub with a lid)
  • Fruit scone
  • Small tub of strawberries
  • Bottle of water


  • Wholemeal roll filled with low fat spread, hardboiled egg and slice of cucumber.
  • Carrot sticks
  • Banana
  • Small pot of low fat rice pudding.
  • Drink


  • Salad made from rice, canned tuna and sweet corn (in water) and chopped red pepper (into a plastic tub)
  • Melon cut into small chunks (put into a plastic tub)
  • Small pot of low fat fruit yoghurt
  • Drink