Accident Prevention in Cold and Winter Weather

Each year hospital Accident and Emergency Units are put under pressure as people of all ages become accident victims during the winter season. Every one of us can take more care to try to ensure we are not killed or injured in the next few months.

The Department for Transport advises that in 2011, 32 people died and 3,912 people were injured when there was snow or ice on the road. All drivers need to consciously adjust their driving according to the wintry conditions.

Always make sure that you have clear vision through your vehicle windows, your lights are clean and unimpaired and any snow on your roof you have removed  before you start off on your journey. On the road, leave extra space between yourself and the vehicle in front and try not to brake suddenly.

In fog, use dipped headlights and if the road is wet it can take you and other drivers longer to stop, so make sure you leave space between you and other vehicles. If you drive through water, choose a low gear and always check your brakes after leaving the water.

In windy conditions bear in mind that strong wings can affect high sided vehicles, often blowing them over. Leave safe spaces between these vehicles and yours.

In 2011/12 over 4,000 people were admitted to hospital because they fell over on snow or ice.

To try and keep safer when walking, wear footwear with a good grip sole, walk slowly and watch where you are placing your feet. Your centre of gravity affects your balance and this is more evident on winter pavements and paths. Do not walk with your hands in your pocket or carry a heavy shopping bag  in one hand, spread the load between two bags using both hands to help keep balanced. 

Think about wearing bulky clothes so that if you do fall, your body has a greater barrier between you and the hard surface.

When crossing a road, bear in mind that in icy conditions vehicles cannot stop as quickly as they can in normal conditions, so take care and cross on a clear road and remember that stopping vehicles may skid in your direction if they have to brake suddenly.

At home, keep paths, steps and driveways clear with salt or sand. Ordinary table or dishwasher salt can be used so stock up with extra before you need it.

In the winter naturally we heat our homes and each year people die through carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a gas fire or boiler or a wood burner, install a carbon monoxide detector. If your detector is old, replace it. 

The festive season brings other opportunities for accidents. Old Christmas tree lights can catch fire, so be safe and purchase new lights which nowadays have higher safety standards  and when putting the lights on the tree make sure the cables are not a cause for someone to trip over. Keep decorations away from candles and other heat sources such as lights. Always extinguish candles and turn off lights before going out or to bed.

Be aware and keep safe.

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