Get ready for winter blog

Winter safety advice the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Each year, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) takes many enquiries from members of the public and employers about staying safe during the winter months. We are committed to the philosophy that life should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible, and we encourage people - particularly children - to get out and about to enjoy the wintry weather.

We have a range of saftety advice available on our website

  • Winter driving
  • Winter driving advice for employers
  • Clearing ice and snow
  • Water and leisure safety
  • Home safety (including Christmas safety)
  • Workplace safety

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accident, thankfully, the consequences of many falls on snow or ice are simply minor bumps and bruises.

In previous years, however, thousands of people have been admitted to hospital after suffering more serious injuries after falls during wintry weather. Figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics for England show there were 7,031 admissions to hospital in 2012/13 as a result of people falling over on snow or ice.

 Tips on how to avoid slipping in adverse weather:

  • Wear sturdy footwear, with a good grip - you can always change into other footwear when you have reached your destination 
  • If you've got Nordic walking poles (or similar), use them
  • Take it slowly and allow yourself extra time to get from A to B, so you don't find yourself having to make a last minute dash to get to the bus etc.
  • Keep an eye on what is underfoot. Some places will remain icy for longer than others (e.g. places that do not get the sun)
  • If you have neighbours who are elderly/disabled/new mums etc. offer to pop to the shops for them
  • If councils have provided grit bins so people can treat public areas not included on the usual gritter route, use them - but don't remove vast quantities for your own personal use.

Remember - as well as slips and trips on pavements and in public places, many people fall over on their own footpaths and driveways. Take care in these places too.

Ice and snow? Take it slow!

The consequences of a fall can be more serious for older people, here are some tip on how to avoid falling in slippery conditions.

  • Try to minimise the need to go out. Ask friends or neighbours to shop for you or take you to where you need to go.
  • If you do decide to go out when there's snow and ice about, take time to think what you can do to reduce the risk of a fall.
  • Where possible, plan a safe route from your home to where you are going, so as to avoid slopes, steps and areas that have not been cleared or gritted.
  • Don't take short cuts through areas where the slipping hazards are greater.
  • Ask a friend or neighbour to clear a safe path from your front door.
  • Wear proper footwear for better traction on slippery surfaces. Consider fitting anti-slip crampons.
  • Consider using a stick or better still, a walking pole and take slow, small steps. Try not to hurry and give yourself more time to get from A to B so you do not rush.
  • Use rails or other stable objects that you can hold on to.
  • If possible, wear extra layers to protect the more vulnerable parts of your body like your head, neck and spine if you do fall.
  • Wipe your feet well when entering buildings.
  • In public places, always report unsafe conditions so other people do not get hurt.
  • RoSPA's older people's safety information and advice page has tips for what to do if you suffer a fall.

For more information and advice visit the RoSPA website.

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