The Red Cross is urging Scots to be prepared and stay safe as severe weather conditions and heavy snow continue to blanket many parts of the country. Overnight, the charity supported emergency services and local authorities with its 4×4 fleet, and teams of volunteers helped staff a rest centre in Perth after motorists became stranded in freezing conditions.
Weather experts have said the earliest widespread snow and freezing temperatures to hit the UK for 17 years could last for up to a fortnight. The icy conditions pose the threat of accidents such as falls and cases of hypothermia.
The grim warning comes just days after the Red Cross in Scotland launched a major campaign to improve Scotland’s ability to deal with extreme weather and other emergencies.
The organisation has written to all MSPs and political parties, calling on them to back proposals for a national Resilience Week in Scotland, designed to improve the country’s ability to prepare for and withstand crises. It has urged all parties to include the proposals contained in the Red Cross document “Resilient Scotland” in their manifestos for the 2011 Holyrood elections.
James Jamieson, Red Cross senior service manager for emergency response, said: “Severe weather in winter can potentially be life-threatening especially to the elderly and most vulnerable in our communities. But there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent developing conditions like hypothermia such as wearing a hat and lots of layers and buying portable gas or oil-fired heaters in case your heating breaks down.
“If you have elderly relatives and neighbours, be sure to call in on them regularly and make sure they are warm enough and have enough provisions. If the worst does happen with some first aid knowledge you can respond to a range of emergencies.”
The Red Cross has posted advice for severe weather conditions on its website redcross.org.uk including how to respond to cold weather-related accidents.
Below are some simple tips that can be employed for a range of emergency situations, along with advice on how to cope when they do:
Hypothermia signs and symptoms may include:
- Shivering; cold to touch, pale skin
- Apathy and disorientation
- Slow and shallow breathing
Treatment for hypothermia
1. The casualty should be warmed slowly. Cover the person with blankets – and a hat, if possible – and warm the room.
2. They should be given a hot drink and some high-energy food such as chocolate.
3. Call 999 for emergency help. Remember: in elderly people, hypothermia may also be disguising the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.
Falls – how to treat sprains or strains
It is difficult to distinguish between different bone, joint and muscle injuries. If you suspect the injury may be a fracture, or dislocated joint, then seek medical help immediately.
Strains and sprains should be treated initially by the “RICE” procedure:
R – Rest the injured part;
I – Ice, in a pack or a cold pad should be applied on sprain;
C – Comfortable support should be provided;
E – Elevate the injured part.
For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid
Notes to editors
For more information on the first ever Red Cross manifesto Resilient Scotland, visit http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Our-advocacy-work/Our-call-to-action
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.