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Advice from health professionals during the cold snap

As temperatures plummet, local NHS services and social care colleagues are advising what to do to help people look after themselves and others in the icy conditions.

People are much more likely to experience a slip, trip or a fall during the colder months. These types of incidents, particularly for an older person, can mean that a simple trip can result in more serious injury, which can require complex treatment and a longer recovery.

We want to ensure that encourage people to look out for one anotherwho live alone, are frail or may become unsteady and experience a nasty injury as a result of a fall on the ice.

To help keep you on your feet and to avoid a visit to hospital this winter, we are giving the following tips:

  1. Stay indoors if you don’t need to go out, but keep in touch with loved ones or relatives so they know you are ok. 
  2. Avoid slips trips and falls by wearing well-fitting shoes with good grip, make sure they are in good condition and support the ankle.
  3. Avoid wearing loose-fitting, trailing clothes that might trip you up. If going outside keep wrapped up warm, wear gloves to protect your hands if you do take a tumble.
  4. Plan your journey or leave the house earlier to get to work as there may be traffic delays or cancellations on public transport due to the icy conditions. 
  5. Check that elderly or those who are more at risk have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather.
  6. Sitting for long periods can cause older people to become dizzy or unsteady as they attempt to stand up. Try some gentle muscle strength and balance exercises which can help reduce your risk of a fall by improving your posture, coordination and balance. NHS Choices have advice on exercises for older people which can be undertaken in the home.
  7. Get your eyes and glasses checked regularly, at least every two years. This will detect any vision problems early before they cause you to lose your balance and co-ordination.
  8. Discuss any falls you have had with your GP and explain if it's had any impact on your health and wellbeing, particularly if you experience a head injury.
  9. You can request a home hazard assessment if you're concerned that you or a relative may be at risk of having a fall, or if someone has recently had a fall. Contact your GP or local authority to ask about the help available in your area.
  10. The Met Office provide weather forecasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up to date with the weather. Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website.

Colin Hont, director of nursing and deputy chief nurse said, “We would encourage people to take extra care both on the roads and on the pavements during the very cold weather. The change in weather can mean we see more injuries relating to people falling over or slipping on the ice.

“We are advising people to look after themselves and loved ones, especially those who are more vulnerable to the cold. If you don’t need to venture out staying indoors and keeping warm can be one way to prevent falling. For older loved ones its worth checking to see if they have enough food and drink and up to date prescriptions so they don’t need to visit the  shops or pharmacy.

“If you experience a fall and are unsure where to go, the walk in centres can offer advice, treatment and an X- Ray if required; alternatively NHS 111 can help you find the most appropriate place to access treatment.”

For more information please visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/winterhealth/ or https://www.nhs.uk/staywell

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