Winter first aid tips
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