· Wear well-fitted shoes with non-slip soles if you have to go out but try to limit walking during the current cold weather. Boots with rubber soles and solid ankle support that are preferably waterproof are essential to preventing slips and falls on the ice.
· Clear the ice from your footpath and around your house and assist less capable neighbours in doing the same.
· Check in on elderly neighbours. Elderly people are especially prone to hypothermia and pneumonia. Unfortunately, they are also the most likely to be living in older houses without adequate heating, so call in regularly on elderly friends, neighbours and relatives to see if they need help staying warm, have enough food, heat and prescription medications.
· If you have a fall, even a minor one, make sure you visit your doctor for a check up.
Treating strains and sprains
The initial treatment for both injuries is the same.
· Rest the injured part.
· Ice - apply ice or a cold pad to the injured area.
· Comfortably support the injury using a bandage or soft padding.
· Elevate the injured part.
If you suspect a broken bone
· Support the limb
· Leave the casualty in the position found. Secure and support the injured part. You can use rolled up blankets, cushions, clothes or whatever you have handy.
· Get the casualty to hospital.
· Assess the severity of the injury and decide how to get them to hospital. For example if they have an arm injury, you may be able to drive them yourself. If you suspect a broken leg or a spine or neck injury, call 999.
· Treat for shock if required. Look for signs of shock including pale, cold and clammy skin, rapid then weak pulse, fast and shallow breathing, sweating and complaints of nausea and thirst. If you suspect shock, lie the casualty down and raise their legs above the level of their heart. Make sure you keep the casualty warm.
Further information on health services in your area is available through the HSE information line, 1850 24 1850, and on the HSE website. Remember to call 112 or 999 if you need an ambulance.