Ambulance service’s cold weather advice

SNOW, ice and plunging temperatures can often lead to an increase in calls for the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), who are advising High Peak residents to stay warm and use common sense during the current cold weather.

Extreme temperatures cause people’s blood vessels and airways to narrow. This can contribute to a range of problems from making people’s long term conditions such as lung diseases worse and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke in the vulnerable.

Dr James Gray, EMAS’ Medical Director, said: “The cold has an adverse affect on many long-term conditions and strenuous activities such as shovelling snow in freezing temperatures can increase the risk of heart attack for those who are already vulnerable.

“Keeping warm is key to keeping well. It’s especially important that elderly people heat their home and have hot meals as they’re more vulnerable to the effects of the cold.

“Slips and trips on ice and snow, as well as road traffic accidents due to driving without due care in freezing conditions, account for a large number of calls during winter. We’d advise everyone to be extra careful and not take risks.

“People can make a real difference to elderly neighbours by checking that they’re well this winter and offering to help with shopping if it’s hard for them to get outside.”

During snow and icy conditions, people are urged to heed the advice offered by the emergency and health services and to use common sense.

• Be a responsible driver and slow down – the wet, snow and fog conditions contribute to an increase in road traffic collisions. Make sure you leave a good distance between you and the vehicle in front.

• Prepare for if you were to break down or become stranded. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and you have your breakdown service details with you, pack blankets, a warm coat, snacks and a flask for a hot drink.

• If out walking, wear sensible footwear and wrap up warm.

• When off to have some sledging fun, make sure you consider the location – somewhere with no obstructions such as trees, fences or rocks and avoid sledging near roads, pavements or water (frozen or not). Only sledge in the daylight. The RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) have more winter safety tips at www.rospa.com.

• Take care when shovelling snow – the cold air makes it harder to work and breathe and this can add extra strain on the body and can be the cause of heart attacks in the vulnerable.

• Manage your own minor illness by making sure you have collected your repeat prescription, in particular for inhalers or heart medication and make sure you take them with you if you go out.

• Have a well-stocked first-aid kit including treatments for colds and flu, or sickness and diarrhoea to stop you from getting dehydrated, plasters and antiseptic wipes for small wounds, and pain killers to treat head, tooth and muscle pains.

• You can get advice and treatment for sprains, grazes or minor injuries after a fall at a local walk-in centre. People suffering from a cold or flu can get treatment and advice from their local pharmacist.

By using the right service, it will help EMAS get to people suffering a life-threatening condition like a cardiac arrest, severe bleeding, fitting or concussion and who really need an emergency ambulance.