The Department of Health and Children and the HSE this week reminded people to be extra vigilant during the current cold spell and to check on vulnerable people who could be at risk. Cold weather can be a problem for anyone, especially older people, children, people with a disability, and those with long-term illness. The majority of health services around the country are operating as normal despite the adverse weather conditions. Notwithstanding the challenges faced, particularly by community based health services in some of the worst affected areas, services are being provided by the HSE with the support of staff and other agencies.
The risk of slips and falls on icy footpaths is likely to continue in the days ahead. Ice and snow is likely to lead to an increase in the number of people presenting with sprains and fractures as a result of slips and falls on icy roads and footpaths. The HSE is advising the public to reduce the risk by wearing non-slip shoes or boots, walking slowly and keeping hands out of pockets to help protect in the case of a slip or fall.
The HSE is reminding people that the elderly and vulnerable may need additional support during this adverse weather. People should pay a visit to elderly neighbours to ensure that they have adequate food, heating, and prescription medicines. The elderly can be particularly prone to hypothermia and pneumonia when temperatures dip so ensuring they have enough heat and hot food and regular hot drinks is particularly important to their wellbeing at this time.
The HSE is also asking people to contact their hospital out patient departments if they are unable to attend an out patient appointment due to road conditions. Having advance notice that a patient is unable to attend helps the hospital staff plan accordingly to ensure that services can be provided to other patients. A list of contact information for hospitals around the country is available on www.hse.ie