Ambulance service gives cold weather warning

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As the weather gets colder, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people to care of themselves whilst remembering the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who may be at risk.

Cold weather can lead to serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Every winter in the UK, there are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 excess deaths mostly linked to circulatory and respiratory diseases. Following a few basic principles can make a big difference to the safety and wellbeing of those at risk:

• check on them to make sure they are safe and well

• make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night

• stock up on food and medicines

• watch your step – falls often result in trips to hospital

• avoid driving in icy and snowy conditions unless your journey is absolutely necessary

If you have to drive it’s worth taking a few minutes to make sure that there aren’t any problems on your intended route.

• Visit http://www.highways.gov.uk/traffic/traffic.aspx

• Check the weather at metoffice.gov.uk

• Call the Highways Agency information line on 0300 123 5000

• Tune into DAB Traffic Radio

Jon Porter, Driving Standards Manager for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “If you have to drive in icy and snowy conditions please ensure you have sufficient fuel for your journey and that you have a mobile phone, ice-scraper, de-icer, blanket, shovel, jump leads, warning triangle, hi-viz jacket or vest, hot flask and food in the event of getting trapped.

“Remember gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in ice and snow and stopping distances can be up to ten times longer. Select second gear when pulling

away, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin. Once moving try to maintain a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear in advance to avoid having to change down while climbing or descending hills and gradients. Ensure your boots or shoes are cleaned of snow and ice underneath to ensure your safety

getting in and out of the vehicle and also to ensure they do not slip on the pedals whilst driving.

“If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.”