Get ready for winter

Snow help

St John Ambulance has joined forces with voluntary sector partners, Government departments and industry bodies to provide information on how to 'Get Ready for Winter' during the week of 24-30 October, to coincide with the week the clocks go back.

The aim of the project is to raise awareness of winter risks and their consequences and encourage individuals, families and communities to think about what preparations they may need to make.

All the key messages and links to sources of information can be accessed from the Direct Gov website and St John Ambulance has provided winter first aid advice below.


Frostbite occurs when the extremities, usually fingers or toes, freeze due to low temperatures. This is most common in freezing or windy and cold conditions. If you suspect frostbite, do not place the extremities near direct heat.


Hypothermia develops when the body temperature falls below 35°C (95°F). It does not just occur when outdoors; hypothermia can also occur in poorly heated housing and can often affect the elderly. The effects vary depending on the speed of the onset and the level to which the body temperature falls.


During the winter months when the ground is often icy, falls that result in fractures can become more common. Both the severity of the fracture and the area that is injured can determine the best treatment.

If you suspect a fracture, follow these steps and call 999/112 for emergency help.


Heating your home with an open fire is more common in the winter and accidents may lead to both minor and severe burns. If you or somebody you know has been burnt, it is important to administer first aid quickly.

Colds and flu

Statistics from the NHS show that 15 million people in the UK are affected by colds and flu every year. The common cold will ease within seven days and people with symptoms are advised to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Flu can present more severe symptoms and again, sufferers are advised to rest, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids. They may also take paracetamol or ibuprofen (as directed) to relieve aches.

If you are concerned about your symptoms or are wondering whether to see your doctor please see the NHS Symptom Checker for more information.

Emergency first aid

It’s also important to know how to deal with emergency situations, such as these while waiting for an ambulance.

  • Severe bleeding
  • Choking
  • Heart attack
  • Unresponsive, breathing casualty
  • Unresponsive, not breathing casualty.

Find out more about how to treat these five situations and be the difference.