There is no doubt that a ‘Pandemic’ Christmas post lockdown is going to be rather different for many reasons. We still hope that you can enjoy the festive season as much as possible, however you celebrate. More importantly we want you to stay safe and well, both at home and in work, which is where this guide should come in handy, with our top tips on how to avoid a Christmas crisis!
For many, Christmas brings with it many wonderful traditions, such as candles, fairy lights, lots of cooking and possibly a festive drink or three! Whilst they add to the seasonal ambiance, these factors also bring with them several safety issues, especially of a flammable nature.
Unfortunately, more fatalities caused by accidental fires occur in the December/January period than any other time of the year.1 Add to that the slip, trip, fall and breakage hazards, and you start to realise just how careful you need to be.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, (ROSPA)2 Christmas trees alone account for more than 1,000 injuries each year and around 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights.
Meanwhile in the context of work, here are some key things to bear in mind with Christmas safety; –
Christmas Cyber Scams
Cyber security is important whether it’s in your own home on your personal laptops or in your practice. Unfortunately, this time of year is when cyber criminals are most likely to prey, so everyone needs to be even more vigilant in the run up to the 25th and beyond.
To reiterate a shocking statistic, the value of stolen medical data, which you have a duty of care to protect, it is more valuable than financial data, worth on average 10 times more3 than credit card details on the black market.
Remember, cyber criminals will look for the weakest link and because many passwords are used across many different platforms, including for personal and work use, once they gain access, the cyber criminals will infiltrate other networks.
- Password security- password security is always important everywhere. Remember to change passwords frequently, don’t write them down, make them at least eight characters long and use a combination of upper and lower case, plus symbols.
- Software protection- Ensure you have good software protection installed and it is kept up to date. Another scam that increases at this time of year is the fake virus checker. Beware of alerts promising to knock out malware that doesn’t really exist.
- Online security- Don’t input personal details into any websites that do not display the security padlock symbol.
- Fake charities proliferate- Sadly, cyber criminals exploit this season of goodwill to scam charitable people, by creating fake websites asking for donations. Always check for a legitimate registration before donating. They look genuine but don’t be fooled, the money goes nowhere but to the scammers.
- E-cards may mean malware- Be wary of E-cards especially if they are from unknown sources. Don’t open an email or link from any sender that you don’t recognise. Cyber criminals can affix malware to a variety of things, such as websites, adverts, images, videos and links. With social media being particularly active at this time of year, your friends might unwittingly pass on malware through attachments and amusing videos.
- Fake surveys- These are circulated all year round, offering a cash reward or gift once the user fills out the survey. Knowing that most people are keen for some extra cash around Christmas, fraudulent surveys are on the rise around Christmas time. If you find a survey asks for bank and credit details, it’s highly likely it’s fake.
- Golden rule- If you come across something which doesn’t look quite right, or seems too good to be true, avoid it. The golden rule that you and your employees should all be aware of is – if in doubt, don’t click.
- Malware comes in all shapes and sizes- Perhaps you’ve considered uploading rotating festive images for the office desk top backgrounds? Unfortunately, there has been an increase in malware contained in these types of desktop bundles so, never download zip files from an unknown source, and if you’re keen to have something festive as your background, use a trusted free image source to find your images.
- Hot spots are danger spots- We have discussed the dangers of Wi-Fi hotspots in other articles but with a lot of people shopping from their phones and giving away personal details on their mobiles during the Christmas period, it’s especially important. Never connect to an unknown source, and generally, avoid online shopping using public Wi-Fi’s even if they are normally secure sources.
Don’t assume that you are covered
Security is particularly important for the healthcare sector, which as we’ve shown is a prime target for cyber criminals. However, don’t assume that your existing cover is adequate, as it is a relatively new risk that isn’t covered outside of a standalone policy. Cyber insurance is specifically designed to protect against this increasing threat.
Talk to us
We are here to support you, both at Christmas time and throughout the year. You can rely on our expertise to give you the best advice and support so why not talk to one of advisers before you break up for the festivities, just to have peace of mind.
Our Cyber insurance can help protect your business against a range of cyber threats and exposures, including cybercrime, data breaches and system interruption.
All of the insurers we’ve chosen offer a dedicated incident and cyber response helpline. These helplines are available 24/7 so you’re able to react to a cyber-attack quickly and effectively.
For more information on Cyber cover, speak to our security expert- Montrose Bill
Call: 01438 870718 or Email: Montrose.firstname.lastname@example.org
Burst pipes and boiler failure
The last thing you need is a burst pipe or no heating. Insurers pay out a massive £930 million in water-related claims each year. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) state that a claim relating to a burst pipe costs nearly £9,000 on average4, as often cost of repairs extends far beyond the actual pipe.
Dental practices in particular have large volumes of water pumping through their surgeries compared to other commercial buildings. Add to that frozen pipes in winter, pressure fluctuations or ground subsidence and it’s clear that water leaks are a potential disaster waiting to happen. Like all good healthcare, prevention and early detection is vital.
- Make sure that your pipes are well lagged, including any cold-water tanks in the roof space.
- Get your boiler serviced to avoid a festive failure.
- Order any heating fuel (oil/coal etc) well in advance as it’s a busy time for heating comestibles!
- Invest in a switch or remote stop cock device so you can easily turn the water off. Fortunately, modern technology is also (literally) on hand to provide early warning solutions via detection software systems. Controlled via your smart phone app, they can mitigate damage by allowing you to shut off the water supply remotely.
Make sure that your building is covered by the appropriate practice cover so you won’t get caught out by expensive repair bills.
Best foot forward
Whilst the number of patients physically visiting surgeries has reduced due to lockdown, you still need to ensure that your practice is a safe place to visit.
- Icy paths and car parks can prove to be a slip hazard so get the grit out.
- Make sure they are also well lit so people can see potential hazards.
- Make sure paths are even, crack free and level and there are no dips that can collect pooled water that could subsequently freeze into a slip hazard.
- Do take care underfoot, especially if we are lucky enough to have a truly white Christmas, as we did back in 2010, (although that is looking unlikely this year with Coral giving odds of only 5-4 at the time of writing).
It may be wise to check your public liability insurance cover which protects you in the event that your patients or a member of the public claims against you following an injury sustained in your workplace.
Can you cope with staff absence?
With Christmas just around the corner and the prospect of increased footfall, please check to see that you have got adequate locum cover just in case any of your colleagues are unable to work. The festive period is such a busy time and you need the reassurance that you can bring in additional cover to handle the work load should you not have your full team available.
Look after yourself too
Feeling stressed and under pressure? That’s totally understandable and we want to support your health and wellbeing as well as your finances. So, why not log onto our free Health & Wellbeing app- Wellbeing Matters for some advice on how to stay calm and composed this Christmas.
This winter will no doubt be even more challenging than usual, as the Pandemic threatens to continue to impact on the way we live and work. With the pressures of preparing for the festivities, straining bank balances and your sanity- no wonder we often forget to look after our own health & wellbeing at this time of year.
Don’t succumb to the winter blues- our festive themed webinar will provide you with useful advice on how to survive Christmas!
We hope that you and your families all have a wonderful Christmas and that it is a memorable time for all the right reasons!
4 ABI https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/home-insurance/burst-pipes-and-water-leaks/