Emergency services are urging local people to take some simple precautions during the cold snap.
With freezing temperatures set to stay and significant snow fall forecast, West Midlands Ambulance Service is urging the public to take some simple precautions to stay safe and healthy. A spokeswoman said: “There are simple steps that the public can take to help them stay safe during this wintery weather. Make sure you wrap up warm and wear sensible footwear, helping to avoid slips, trips and falls.
“If the weather does take a turn for the worse, please avoid or delay any unnecessary journeys. If you really need to travel by road, allow extra time for your journey and be extra vigilant on icy and snow covered roads. Motorists should consider carrying a few essentials with them in the winter months in case of a breakdown or delay such as an ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first aid kit, battery jump leads, a snow shovel and food and drink. If you’re heading off on a long journey, make sure your mobile phone is also fully charged.
“Snow and ice can be a huge amount of fun, but can also be quite dangerous. Every winter we’re called to people who have become injured whilst sledging. We would encourage people to just take a second to think about where they are sledging and to have fun safely. Clearly playing on frozen lakes and canals can also have tragic consequences if people fall on or through the ice.
“People with existing medical conditions that can be aggravated by cold weather should stay warm and be prepared by making sure they have all their medications. We also appeal for people to be aware of those who are elderly, frail or in some way vulnerable to this type of weather, be it friends, neighbours or relatives. Why not show some community spirit and ensure that people in these categories do not have to go out and risk hurting themselves by getting in any essential supplies that they might need?
“The ambulance service historically experiences some of its busiest periods during winter and the public are asked to think before dialing 999. Is your call really a serious life-threatening emergency that requires an immediate 999 medical response? Ambulance crews have to use the same roads to get to emergencies as everyone else and therefore may take longer to get to patient safely in such challenging conditions.
“If you do need medical treatment but your condition is not life threatening, please consider using parts of the NHS other than A&E and the 999 service. Advice and treatment can be sought from pharmacists, your GP, walk in centres, minor injuries units and NHS Direct via 0845 46 47 or on-line at www.nhs.uk.”
Tips to stay safe and healthy:
Winter always brings more coughs, colds, sore throats and flu – If you start to have the symptoms of flu or a heavy cold, stay at home, keep warm and take plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
Make sure you have cold and flu medications in the house, as well as other basic first aid supplies such as painkillers, plasters, bandages and anti-diarrhoea medication. When stocking up with flu remedies, check first with your GP or pharmacist if you are on other medication to make sure the medicines are right for you.
NHS Direct – on 0845 4647 or www.nhs.uk – is available 24 hours a day to give confidential advice and information on what to do if you, or a member of your family, are ill.
Your local pharmacist can advise you about minor medical problems. Check for the opening times at your nearest pharmacy or call your PCT for the latest information.
All GP surgeries offer an emergency out-of-hours service. If you call when the surgery is closed, keep a pen and paper handy and listen to the full message to take down the number of the GP’s emergency service.
For more serious injuries or illnesses, hospital A&E departments are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Examples of serious injuries or illnesses include critical or life-threatening situations such as head injury, broken bones or dislocation, severe chest pain or breathlessness, choking and difficulty breathing, ingestion of toxic substances and severe bleeding.
The best way of warming up is to keep active, which is also good for the heart. A few gentle exercises at home can keep the blood flowing properly. Extra layers of clothing, including wearing a hat to go out, and regular hot drinks and meals are just what the doctor orders for the cold weather! Keep your home warm.
Norovirus and other stomach bugs can usually be best dealt with by rest and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Most people make a full recovery within 1-2 days, however some (usually the very young or elderly) may become very dehydrated and require hospital treatment.
Wash your hands regularly. Correct respiratory and hand hygiene (RHH) practice is one of the most effective actions the public can take to protect themselves and others from infection and the spread of germs that can lead to cold, flu and other illnesses.
Check on any elderly relative or neighbour living alone ensuring that they are safe and well.