Don’t Fall Head Over Heels for Winter

Slips, trips and falls all become more likely during wet, cold and icy weather conditions.  Follow the tips below to ensure that they do not suffer a slip, trip or fall as the winter weather hits.

  • Spread sand or salt on icy surfaces on walkways, work areas, and steps.
  • Consider putting the activity off until conditions improve if the weather is really bad.
  • Keep steps and equipment clean and dry. Take the time to clean off mud, snow, and ice.
  • Wear shoes or boots with a flat, low heel, a slip-resistant sole to reduce slipping hazards and a good tread that helps to grip the surface.
  • Walk slowly and carefully

If you are unlucky enough to take a tumble and suffer a sprain or a strain it is not always necessary to visit your GP or your A&E department. Mild to moderate sprains or strains can often be treated at home by following the advice below:

  • Protection – protect the injured area from further injury, by using a support or, in the case of an ankle injury, wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, such as lace-ups.
  • Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself.
  • Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Do not leave the ice on while you are asleep, and do not allow the ice to touch your skin directly because it could cause a cold burn.
  • Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a crepe bandage or a simple elastic bandage available from a pharmacy. It should be wrapped snugly around the affected area but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
  • Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. If your leg is injured, avoid having long periods of time where your leg is not raised.

For the first 72 hours after a sprain or muscle strain you should avoid:

  • Heat– such as hot baths, saunas or heat packs (applying a controlled amount of heat to affected joints).
  • Alcohol– drinking alcohol will increase bleeding and swelling and decrease healing.
  • Running– or any other form of exercise that could cause more damage.
  • Massage– which may increase bleeding and swelling

If you are unsure whether you need medical attention then in the first instance call NHS 111 for fast and free expert advice on what you should do. Your local pharmacy can also advise you on over the counter remedies to ease any slight pain, minor swelling or bruising.

Medical attention should be sought for an injury suffered as a result of a slip, trip or fall if:

  • The pain is particularly severe.
  • You are unable to move the injured joint or muscle.
  • You cannot put any weight on the injured limb, or it gives way when you try to.
  • The injured area looks misshaped or has unusual lumps or bumps (other than swelling).
  • You have numbness, discolouration or coldness in any part of the injured area.
  • The symptoms have not started to improve within a few days of self-treating.