It may not have been a white Christmas, but it certainly is snow season in the UK. The temperatures are plummeting and the weather is wreaking havoc, making it all the more important to think about winter safety and how you stay safe in periods of bad weather. Looking after your health and safety, as well as that of others is even more important during the winter months, where hospitals and GP surgeries are already bursting. Take steps to secure your safety with useful advice for staying safe in the snow and ice.

 

Winter safety advice

It’s important to secure your winter safety when you’re both in and out of the home. During the most extreme weather conditions, you should avoid going outside, making sure that you stay inside in the warm. However, this isn’t always possible, which is why the right winter safety precautions could help you stay fit and well during the colder months.

Walk like a penguin?

This may seem a bit bonkers, but German trauma surgeons are advising residents to walk like penguins in icy conditions. This involves leaning your body forward to ensure that your weight rests on your front leg. This helps to keep balance, as more falls are caused on ice when the body weight is split evenly, as per a normal walk. Try to avoid taking a heavy bag as this will cause your weight to shift unevenly. If you do need to walk across icy pavements, this could be the way to help you keep your balance, although avoiding icy paths altogether is advised.

Choose the right footwear

Slips and falls can be easily avoided through wearing the right footwear. Avoid heels or shoes with no grip such as loafers or ballet pumps and wear shoes with rubber soles or specially designed shoes for walking in the snow and ice. You can buy rubber grips to add onto your existing shoes, which are handy to carry around with you at this time of year.

Don’t rush

Be sure to take your time when you’re walking in the ice and snow. Whilst you may be used to walking in a hurry, your instinct to walk quickly could lead you to fall and cause an injury. Use handrails as you walk if you need to and anything else which can help you keep your grip, particularly when walking up steps.

Layer up

It’s important to layer up during the winter months, which is true whether you’re outside or inside. Wear as many layers as you feel will keep you warm, and as your body temperature increases, you can remove them. It is advisable to wear many light layers rather than a couple of thicker ones so that you can adjust to temperatures more easily.

Use your common sense

During the winter weather, surfaces which once seemed easy can be very difficult to navigate. Avoid steep hills, watery surfaces and even some stretches of grass can be slippery. Assess the risk before you attempt it and never walk across icy lakes and rivers – they may seem solid but their surfaces could break at any time. Be careful when walking your dog too, making sure to keep them on a lead where necessary.

Drive carefully

If you can leave your car at home, then do – it will be safer for you to walk on foot than drive in dangerous conditions. For those necessary trips, try to only drive a short distance, and keep some emergency essentials in the boot of your car such as walking shoes, a torch, bottles of water, a first aid kit and a power pack for your mobile phone.

Stay hydrated

You may think that dehydration isn’t very likely during the winter months, but it is certainly something to consider. Your body loses water through breathing extra hard in the cold, so drink plenty of water throughout the day and hot drinks to help keep you warm in the colder weather.

Stock up on your prescriptions

If you know that extreme winter weather is on the way, make sure you stock up on any of your required prescriptions in advance. This will mean that you have what you need without the need to leave your home. Ensure that you have enough basic first aid and medication provisions, and note your emergency numbers somewhere safe. If you have elderly relatives, neighbours or friends, make sure they have what they need and that their homes are heated properly. Age UK have some great resources for helping them prepare for winter.

Be safe and sensible this winter and be cautious when you’re out and about. For more tips on staying healthy this winter, head to the NHS Choices pages which has some useful information on how to keep fit and healthy during the colder months.