Winter first aid tips

winter sprain

From broken bones and sprains caused by slips, to the more extreme cases of hypothermia, there are a number of injuries that you or your loved ones may suffer as a result of the freezing weather.

For advice on how to cope with these cold-weather injuries the first aiders at St John Ambulance have put some information together for you.

Isobel Sternfeld, St John Ambulance Training Officer, said: 'Nearly three million people a year suffer a fall of some kind and it’s particularly common at this time of year when people are slipping and falling on ice. We hope our tips will help people cope in these situations.

'A common injury is a sprain or strain which is when the soft tissues around the bone or joint become injured by violent or sudden movements. There may be pain and tenderness, swelling and bruising and difficulty moving the joint. Those caring for the patient need to remember the word RICE. Rest the affected part; apply an Ice pack (wrapped in a tea towel) for 10 minutes; give Comfortable support using padding and a bandage and Elevate it to help with pain and swelling.

‘Sprains can be confused with broken bones or fractures, as we call them, but a fracture generally requires more force. As well as swelling, bruising and pain, fractures can be suspcted if you see a shortening, bend or twist in the limb. They tend to prevent the limb being used and a wound can appear where a bone may protrude. The body may also go into shock, which is where a first aider can offer some real support. If you are unsure whether it is a sprain, strain or fracture that you are dealing with then always treat it as a fracture. Keep it still, support it with lots of padding and send it to hospital.

‘It’s rare, but at this time of year we sadly hear about cases of hypothermia. This is when the body temperature drops below 35C and is recognised by shivering with pale, cold, dry skin and symptoms such as disorientation, apathy or irrational behaviour; impaired consciousness, slow and shallow breathing and a weakening pulse. If you suspect hypothermia, replace any wet clothes with dry and re-warm the patient up slowly by giving them warm drinks and high energy foods such as chocolate.