Have a worrisome Christmas
The cover of Merry Christmas With Safety, a pamphlet from 1983. Photo: National Archives of Australia
We may imagine the nanny state is a new notion but just before Christmas in 1983, the nannies of the ACT Consumer Affairs Bureau and Department of Territories and Local Government issued a nanny-natured leaflet Merry Christmas, with Safety, composed by an imaginative catastrophist worry wort.
ArchivesACT has stumbled across this artefact and has crowned it the Archives' ''Find of the Month''.
Of Christmas trees the leaflet alerts that: ''A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. A fresh tree is green. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground a shower of falling needles shows that the tree is too dry.''
''Snow. Artificial snow sprays can irritate the lungs if inhaled. To avoid, read container labels … follow directions carefully.''
''Candles. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens …''
''Lights. Keep 'bubbling' [flickering] lights away from children. Such lights are hazardous because their bright lights and bubbling movements can tempt children to break the candle-shaped glass, which can cut, and then to drink the liquid, which contains a harmful chemical.
''Trimmings. Where possible, use only non-combustible or flame-retardant materials. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded materials. Keep tinsel clear of tree lights. Leaded materials are harmful if ingested by children or pets. Avoid trimmings that resemble confectionery or food. A child could eat them.''