Health advice for the public during current cold spell

The Department of Health and Children and the HSE are reminding people to be extra vigilant during the current cold spell and to check on vulnerable people who could be at risk.

Advice

Wear well-fitting 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 are essential to prevent slips and falls on the ice.

If you have a fall, even a minor one, make sure you visit your doctor for a check up.

Check in on elderly neighbours. Help older people to stay warm by ensuring that they are wearing layers of clothes, eating regular hot meals, and drinking plenty of fluids.

Food is fuel - eating well will help keep you warm.

Clear the ice from your footpath and around your house and assist less capable neighbours in doing the same.

Keep active by walking around the house regularly.

Wear several layers of light clothes instead of one thick layer. Wear clothes made from wool, cotton, or fleecy synthetic fibres.

Keep your main living room at around 18 – 21C (64 -70F ), and the rest of the house at least 16C (61F ). If you cannot heat all the rooms you use, keep the living room warm throughout the day (21C if active, 24C if inactive ).

Close the curtains in the evening and heat your bedroom before going to bed and make sure the room is warm before you get up in the morning.

Treating strains and sprains

Rest the injured part.

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.

Assess the severity of the injury and decide how to get the injured person to hospital. For example if he/she has an arm injury, you may be able to drive him/her to the nearest emergency department or minor injury unit. 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 his/her legs above the level of his/her heart. Make sure you keep the casualty warm.

Further information on health services in your area is available through the HSE Information Line on 1850 241850 and on the HSE website, www.hse.ie

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