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Prepare for cold weather and possible snow

29 January 2019

Preparing for winterSouth East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is asking people to prepare for cold temperatures and possible snow across its region in the coming days.

While some areas will be more affected than others, the Trust is urging everyone to take the opportunity to prepare for the chance of severe weather now and in the coming weeks.

The Trust has experienced a busy start to the year having sent a response to in excess of 50,000 incidents since 1 January (up to 28 January) and handled thousands more calls in its emergency operations and NHS 111 centres.

People are asked to make use of options for non-emergencies including calling NHS 111, making a GP appointment, visiting a minor injuries unit, speaking to a pharmacist or simply acting on a concern before it becomes more serious.

SECAmb has written a winter check list to help people be prepared for severe weather (see below).

Regional Operations Manager James Pavey said: “We’re asking people to take a moment to check if they’re prepared for colder weather and the possibility of snow. There are some very simple steps people can take to help themselves and others, such as having their vehicle serviced and carrying a blanket, a spade and food and drink if driving. We’d also urge people to order repeat prescriptions and wear appropriate footwear when it’s potentially icy.

“We know that we are always busy at this time of year but people can help us, help them, by carrying out these extra checks.

“When someone is facing a serious or life-threatening emergency, they shouldn’t hesitate in calling 999 for help but we’re asking that when it’s not an emergency that people have considered all other services available to them.”

For further information on how to protect yourself and others this winter please click on the following link:

SECAmb winter check list

• Check your home medicines cabinet – is everything in date? Restock with essentials including cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets and diarrhoea and constipation remedies
• Keep up-to-date with any repeat prescriptions you or your family or friends need.
• If you or someone you look after is in an at-risk group – don’t forget to book a flu vaccination
• Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours – what could you do to help them? Are there any hazards in their homes? Do their slippers need replacing? We attend falls to older and vulnerable people all year round
• Wear appropriate shoes when outside especially during icy weather. We typically see an increase in slips and trips during colder spells
• When was the last time your vehicle was serviced? If your car is safer, so are you
• Carry some useful items in your vehicles such as a blanket and a spade for colder and possible snowy weather
• Wear bright colours at night. Can you be clearly seen as a pedestrian or cyclist? If walking at dusk or at night use a torch
• Heat homes to at least 18C (65F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer
• Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights – breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections. If outside in the cold, cover your nose and mouth – especially if you have a long-term health condition which might be exacerbated by the cold air
• Keep active when you're indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
• Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer
• 999 should only be dialled in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency
• People who are not facing a serious emergency should make alternative arrangements such as dialling NHS 111 or seeking alternative advice from a GP or pharmacist so we can focus on those who need us most.

When to call 999:

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:

• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if: 

• you think the patient's illness or injury is life-threatening
• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel

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