As the cold weather grips the country, Fylde coast residents are being urged to take care to avoid accidents and keep A&E for emergencies only.

This time of year is always busy for A&E staff but with the extra risk of slips and skids the need to keep the pressure off A&E doctors and nurses is even greater.

Icy pavements and roads can be hazardous. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. It adds you should wait until the roads have been gritted if you’re travelling by car.

Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.

Speaking on behalf of Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust Dr Amanda Doyle, a Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “We really need people to remember that the Accident and Emergency department is strictly for serious and life-threatening emergencies only.

“If you’ve slipped on the ice you have to think to yourself whether your injury is life threatening. If you have clearly broken something or if you have hit your head and feel sick the best thing to do is either call 999 or go to A&E. However if it is just a sprain then try the walk-in centre or same day health centre.”

Cold weather can also affect your health if you have a long term condition so if you or someone you care for has a condition that can be made worse by cold weather there are some tips you can follow to stay well and reduce the need for medical treatment. Here are just a few:

  • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
  • Keep as active in your home as possible.
  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. It’s a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. During the day, you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer
  • If you’re under 65 and healthy and active, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable.

Dr Amanda Doyle added: “People could face a lengthy wait to be seen in A&E and could be better off visiting a pharmacist or looking after themselves at home.

“Anyone who is feeling unwell and isn’t sure what they should do can always ring 111 for help and advice on where to go and who to see.”