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Get ready for winter

Snow help

Read our advice our essential winter first aid advice


Frostbite happens when part of the skin and other tissues, freeze due to low temperatures, which can lead to loss of sensation and eventually tissue death and gangrene. This usually happens when exposed to freezing cold temperatures and windy weather.

What to look for:

  • • 'Pins and needles’
  • • Paleness of the area and numbness
  • • Hardened and stiffened skin
  • • Colour change to the skin. The skin may change from white to mottled and blue. On recovery, the skin may be red, hot, painful, and blistered. When gangrene occurs, the skin may become black due to the loss of blood supply.

What you need to do:

  1. 1. Help them indoors or somewhere warm
  2. 2. Remove any constricting clothing or jewellery
  3. 3. Slowly warm affected parts
    • • Do not rub
    • • Do not place on direct heat
  4. 4. Place affected part in warm water
    • • Put on a light dressing
  5. 5. Advise they take the recommended dose of paracetamol
  6. 6. Call 999/112 for emergency help.


Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when someone’s body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F). Normal body temperature is around 37°C (98. 6°F). Hypothermia can become life-threatening quickly, so it’s important to treat someone with hypothermia straight away.

What to look for:

  • • Shivering, cold, and pale with dry skin
  • • Unusually tired, confused, and have irrational behaviour
  • • Reduced level of response
  • • Slow and shallow breathing
  • • Slow and weakening pulse.

How to treat hypothermia

  1. 1. Move them somewhere warm and sheltered
  2. 2. Remove and replace wet clothes
  3. 3. Cover them in blankets
    • • If outside, protect them from the ground
  4. 4. Call 999/112 for emergency help
  5. 5. Monitor breathing, level of response, and temperature
  6. 6. If alert, give them a warm drink or chocolate.

Fractures (broken bones)

A break or crack in a bone is called a fracture. In an open fracture a broken bone may pierce the skin surface. In a closed fracture the skin around the fracture is intact. However, broken bones may be unstable causing internal bleeding, and the casualty may develop shock.

What to look for:

  • • Deformity, swelling, and bruising around the fracture
  • • Pain and or difficulty moving the area
  • • A limb may look shorter, twisted, or bent
  • • A grating noise or feeling from the ends of the broken bones
  • • Difficult or unable to move the limb normally
  • • A wound that may have a bone end protruding, known as an open fracture
  • • May develop signs of shock, particularly with the fracture of a thigh bone or pelvis.

What you need to do:

  1. 1. If there’s an open fracture
    • • Cover the wound with a sterile dressing
    • • Apply pressure around the wound, not over a protruding bone
    • • Secure with a bandage
  2. 2. Support the injured part above and below the joint
  3. 3. Place padding around injury
  4. 4. Call 999/112 for emergency help
    • • Do not move the casualty unless you have secured the limb
  5. 5. Treat for shock
  6. 6. Monitor breathing and level of response.

Strains and sprains

Injuries to the soft structure around the bones and joints are commonly called strains and sprains, they are often associated with sports activities.

What to look for:

  • • Pain and tenderness
  • • Swelling and bruising
  • • Difficulty moving the injured area, especially if it’s a joint.

How to treat a strain or sprain:

  • • R – Rest injured part
  • • I – Apply an ice pack
  • • C – Provide comfortable support
  • - check the circulation every 10 minutes
  • • E – Elevate the injured part
  • - advise them to rest
  • - if the pain is severe or unable to move, seek medical advice.