Perth and Kinross to be hit by cold blast as health chiefs issue ice injury warning to locals

By Melanie Bonn & Robbie Chalmers

Perth and Kinross residents are being warned by NHS Tayside’s emergency departments to take extra care on icy surfaces and “walk like a penguin” with temperatures set to plummet to below freezing over the weekend.

Locals are being urged to follow the health board advice to “protect themselves and the NHS” and avoid a trip to A&E.

It comes after the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for the east of Scotland, with Highland Perthshire expected to be hit by snowfall.

High winds - with gusts of up to 75 mph - associated with Storm Arwen are also expected to “cause some travel disruption and damage” in parts of the county.

The Met Office expects that there will be more persistent rain and snow across the hills today (November 26) before icy conditions take over on Saturday and Sunday, with most parts of the region expected to have daytime temperatures as low as 3°C – and below freezing overnight.

According to the latest forecast, snow looks set to stay away from the lowlands, but the region will still experience “bitterly cold” dry conditions with outbreaks of rain.

With pavements and pathways across the region set to be glazed in sheets of ice, NHS Tayside consultant in emergency medicine Dr Andrew Kinnon is urging people in Tayside to take extra care as they venture out during the cold blast to avoid the risk of being taken to A&E.

He said: “Winter is often a very busy period for our emergency department and we often see an increase in the number of patients with broken bones due to falling in the icy conditions.

“This demand is on top of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To help protect themselves and the NHS, we are encouraging people when they go out to ensure they dress warmly, wear sensible shoes with a good grip and take care when on icy surfaces.

“If you want to stay safe whilst walking on icy paths, our advice is to walk like a penguin – bend the knees, point feet slightly outwards, and extend arms to each side.

“Walk flat-footed, taking short slow steps and keep your centre of gravity over your feet.

“It’s important that everyone knows that the way people access A&E services has changed across Scotland to make sure everyone gets the right care in the right place.

“We often hear from our patients that they have fallen on their own doorstep whilst doing everyday tasks such as taking out their bins or walking to their car.

“We would encourage people to grit areas around their home such as paths and driveways to help avoid falling.

“Also, please keep an eye out for vulnerable or elderly neighbours who you might be able to support.”

There is a dedicated website which is a one-stop-shop for information about how to look after common winter illnesses at home, where to get the right care in the right place for health issues and tips on staying safe during icy weather.

Due to the impending winter rush, Scottish Water has also urged people to take action to avoid falling foul of frozen pipes.

They advise: “Pipes don’t like the cold.

“Whether they are outdoor or indoor, metal or plastic, new or old, making sure pipes and water tanks are properly insulated is one of the simplest, and cheapest, things you can do to help protect your property from the cold.

“Make sure that there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings, and that you use suitable insulation material – a licensed plumber or your local DIY store should be able to give you advice.

“If you have a water tank, it should be fitted with an insulation jacket or alternatively, the top and sides of the tank can be wrapped with suitable insulation material.

“Don’t place loft insulation under the tank, though, as this stops heat from the rooms below helping to keep the tank from freezing.”

Lastly the webpage prompts thoughts on stopping water flow in an emergency: “Do you know where your stop valve is located?

“Your stop valve controls the water supply entering your home. It normally closes by turning clockwise and we recommend that you check this every few months to ensure that it can be opened and closed easily.”

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