Staying safe and warm over festive period

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SOUTH East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has offered helpful tips to keep safe and warm over this festive period.

With Christmas parties taking place and cooling weather temperatures, the Trust has some advice aimed at helping people avoid calling on ambulance services.

Pressure on ambulance services increases significantly at this time of year.

In the last two years more than 1,500 calls a day were received by the Trust over the Christmas holiday period, peaking at over 2,000 calls on New Year’s Day for 2010 and 2011.

Senior operations manager James Pavey said: “We wanted people to be able to be safe during this period, whether they are out enjoying themselves or staying at home.

Often we will receive calls from people who may not require the life-saving skills of our staff and can be better treated by accessing the service most appropriate to their needs.

However, we often get many calls which can been easily be avoided if just a few simple steps are carried out.”

• With the weather getting colder wear a few thin layers when you go out so they can easily be removed as you warm up or enter warm shops or buildings. A few thin layers will also keep you warmer than one or two thick layers.

• Be sure to know in advance the telephone number for your local out-of-hours doctor and dentist. Your local surgery or regular dentist should have this information.

• If it is icy or wet outside take extra care, especially when walking or driving. Leave yourself longer to get where you need to be and if you are walking, wear shoes that have a grip rather than smooth soles.

• With many shops and pharmacies closed over Christmas, stock up your medicine cabinet in advance. Items such as cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets, diarrhoea or constipation remedies and plasters are useful to have in the home all year round.

• If you take regular or prescription medications make sure that you have a large enough supply to keep you going over the Christmas period – and remember to keep taking them.

• Check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours: your help could prove invaluable if they are unable to venture outside due to harsh weather.

• Keep homes at the right temperature, ideally 18-21 degrees C.

• Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day. Eat regularly to help keep energy levels up during winter.

Tips on alcohol consumption:

• Avoid drinking on an empty stomach

• Break up drinking alcohol with water or non-alcoholic drinks

• If someone has been drinking heavily, stay with them and monitor them.

• Drink sensibly and responsibly. In most cases, excessive alcohol consumption on its own is not a reason to call an ambulance. However, if an intoxicated person appears to have another complaint that gives cause for concern, or they lose consciousness and cannot be roused, please call for an ambulance without delay.

People are also asked to consider whether visiting their A&E or GP is the right course of action. A wide range of conditions can be dealt with appropriately by attending a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit, by contacting NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or by speaking to a pharmacist.