By Lucy Ashton
With the country firmly in the grip of an icy spell, and the mercury unlikely to rise for some time, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is urging the public to walk like penguins to help avoid slips and trips on icy surfaces.
Adopting a penguin walk is a safer way to get about in the cold weather as it could help keep you more stable and minimise the risk of losing balance or slipping.
The call comes as A&Es face unprecedented pressure this winter – and with Christmas just a couple of weeks away, taking care now may prevent a stay in hospital or a nasty injury ruining the big day.
Top tips to walk like a penguin:
- Bend slightly and keep your knees loose.
- Point your feet out slightly.
- Extend your arms at your sides.
- Walk flat-footed, taking short steps.
- Keep your centre of gravity over your feet.
In the event of a slip, trip or fall which requires medical attention, but is not very urgent or life-threatening, the health board is advising the public not to go straight to A&E but to instead to phone 111 for advice and to access a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) which is able to assess, treat and discharge patients, and usually has lower waiting times.
Using an MIU will also help protect A&Es for those urgent and life-threatening cases.
Dr Emilia Crighton, Director for Public Health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “At this time of year – and especially in icy spells like this – slips, trips and falls are the most common accidents that result in injury. While most result in bumps and bruises, thousands of people are admitted to hospitals each year with related injuries.
“While it might seem silly to walk or waddle like a penguin, if you’re unlucky the alternative may be spending Christmas in hospital or with an injury. Remember, when it comes to getting around on ice, penguins know best, so if you’re out and about in the next few days, adopting the penguin stance is a really effective way to move without falling.
“During this time we should also make sure we’re supporting our elderly family members and neighbours by making journeys on their behalf to avoid them having to go out in icy conditions.”
If you do hurt yourself in slip or fall, we continue to encourage you to think carefully about how to access the care you need. If you have a minor ache or pain, your local pharmacy will be able to help, and if you think you need urgent care, but it’s not life-threatening, we would urge you to use alternatives to A&E such as GPs, NHS Inform and the virtual A&E service, which is accessible through NHS24 on 111. These routes mean patients will be seen and treated faster than at A&E, and it helps ring-fence A&E for those with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.
For information on how to access the appropriate care for your needs, go to the NHSGGC website: https://www.nhsggc.scot/your-health/right-care-right-place