26 November 2014 - Let’s stay safe this Christmas Let’s stay safe this Christmas - #Beforeyoucall It only seems like a few weeks ago when we were putting away the Christmas decorations but now the festive season is upon us again and the North West Ambulance Service is urging the public to plan ahead so everyone can enjoy a happy and safe Christmas. Christmas 2013 was the first Christmas in some time where the Trust saw a reduction in the number of emergency calls and is hoping to see that trend continue in 2014, however, we need the help of the public for that to happen. Derek Cartwright, Director of Operations explained: “The holiday period and New Year’s Eve in particular is undoubtedly our busiest time of year and we expect that this year will be no exception. So we can best respond to those with life-threatening or potentially life-threatening conditions, we need the help of the public to keep our ambulances free. By taking extra care when out and about and planning ahead for the long bank holiday weekend, people can keep safe and enjoy the festive season at home rather than at a hospital emergency department.” This is also the time of year when crowds of people flock to shopping centres to buy their gifts – they can get hot and dehydrated so drink plenty of water as you shop and take regular breaks. The message is a similar one for the party season. Derek adds: “We don’t want to stop people having fun but many people end up in hospital after a night out, rather than safely at home and in the majority of cases, the incident can be easily avoided. Alcohol lowers your body temperature so wear a coat when going out, drink in moderation, make sure you eat and never drink and drive – even one alcoholic drink can impair your judgement and slow your reactions.” With 25 December falling on a Thursday this year, it means an extra-long weekend and the majority of GP surgeries will be closed for a four day period. Make sure you have ordered your prescriptions well in advance. Look out in local newspapers for pharmacies open during that time or click the link and enter your postcode http://www.nhs.uk/ServiceSearch/Pharmacy/LocationSearch/10 111 can also offer health advice if you are unsure about what to do. Tips for keeping well this Christmas: Choose the right place to treat your health problems such as a walk-in-centre or calling 111 for minor illnesses and injuries – hospital or emergency treatment is not required for coughs and colds. Consider making your own way to hospital if it’s not an emergency - going in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any sooner. Eat before drinking: food soaks up alcohol, slowing it down on its way into the bloodstream. Have a strategic soft drink: this keeps the body hydrated, and will lessen the effects the next day. If you’re going out, wrap up warm. Look after yourself as well as vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours, particularly the elderly and children If buying children a bike or scooter for Christmas – don’t forget the helmet If you're planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving, options include agreeing on a designated driver, saving a taxi number to your phone, or finding out about public transport routes and times before you go out. Don't offer an alcoholic drink to someone you know is planning to drive even if you're not driving, this can help reduce the number of people who are killed and injured every year by drink driving. Don't accept a lift from a driver you know has drunk alcohol Beware the morning after - You could still be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it's the 'morning after'. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don't help to sober you up.