“I never thought it would happen to me”
“I’m 70 now and nothing has ever happened”
“Luck is always on my side”
“If I had known I wouldn’t have gone that way”
“I just didn’t think”
Just some of the words the emergency services hear many, many times every day.
As we age the risks rise with the natural ageing process which affects everybody so it makes sense to take time to consider ‘risk reduction’.
Simple risk assessment and actions accordingly can eliminate or at least minimise emergency situations or put another way “always expect the unexpected and be prepared”.
- Everybody should have with them a form of identification together with details of who to contact in an emergency.
- All should carry with them details of any prescription medication they take.
- It is good practice to carry a spare dose of medication in case of being unexpectedly delayed on a journey.
- Depending on your journey and time of year it is a good idea to carry some protective and / or additional clothing.
- Some water and snack food can be vital at all times of the year especially if delayed on a journey.
- A fully charged mobile phone.
- A map / road atlas if going to unfamiliar places (sat-nav and phone failure).
- Hi-vis (a night torch) particularly in rural areas without footpaths.
- You are safe medically, including eyesight to go out.
Car Owners and Drivers
- Ensure your driving licence, insurance, MOT and breakdown recovery are valid.
- Are you medically fit and medication aware to drive?
- Carry out daily / weekly maintenance check per the car manufacturers manual:- tyres, water, lights, indicators, windscreen wipers, seat belts etc.
- Have your vehicle serviced at the mileage interval or annually, usually whichever is the sooner, per manufacturer’s schedule.
- Have faults remedied immediately and do not wait until the MOT is due.
Some Suggested Items To Carry In Your Car
- Hi-vis vests (as minimum) for you and passengers.
- First aid kit.
- Car type extinguisher – usually powder type, which would be to aid you in an escape situation. Car fires are perilous and best left to the professionals.
- Emergency hammer with integral seat belt cutter – a low cost tool from DIY /motorist stores for breaking window glass in an emergency.
- Emergency rations – minimum water and snack food.
- Inclement weather clothing.
- Map / road atlas irrespective of sat-nav or mobile phone.
- Note book / pencil or pen.
- Hand wipes.
Plan your Journey
- Consider route options and time of day to give the safest and least stressful journey.
- Think about an overnight mid-way stop for longer journeys.
- Do not be over optimistic regarding the time the journey may take you.
- Take regular breaks (at least 2 hourly) and exit the vehicle for a few minutes to invigorate circulation.
- Stop whenever you feel tired and take a break.
- Exercise care if taking ANY medication including over the counter and homeopathic remedies.
- Have a spare pair of spectacles – just in case.
- Think about an emergency “what if” plan.
When Emergencies Occur
Emergencies by their very nature are often difficult, complex and challenging even for those experienced in dealing with them. It is essential to maintain all round vision prioritising your safety at all times – people are killed and seriously injured rushing to help others without checking and simply become a casualty.
The notes which follow are a guide only – every situation will be different and need evaluation of specific risks – the sooner the emergency services are called and in attendance the better.
- Ideally get off the road or at least to the side.
- Switch on hazard lights.
- Quickly put on hi-vis (to be kept in car, not boot) exit on the non-traffic side and get away from the vehicle unless there are other dangers; on motorways and higher speed roads vehicles colliding with stopped vehicles often occur within 15 minutes resulting in serious injury or death. Breaking down in a live running lane away from the verge it may be safer to stay put, keep seat belts on and immediately call the emergency services using 999.
- Call the emergency / breakdown services as appropriate.
- It is not advisable to attempt repairs yourself at the roadside given modern day traffic.
- Only put out warning triangles when you can do so without needing to go in the road.
Passengers should have an awareness of what to do in an emergency and act quickly or at the very minimum listen to any instructions from the driver.
The biggest threat to pedestrians will be from crossing or being in the road for whatever reason. The same rules apply about checking safety and where appropriate using hi-vis or bright clothing; it should be noted in murky or half-light situations even hi-vis may not afford extra visibility.
Only use safe and / or designated crossing places but still ensuring it is safe to cross. Never be tempted to cross where there is obscured vision and allow sufficient distance commensurate with likely road speeds.
Mobility Scooter Users
Mobility scooter users are at high risk and vulnerable when using or crossing any road; this applies equally to type 2 or type 3 scooters even if the latter are registered for road use.
Safe practice and vigilance are key factors and staying within the limitations of your scooter are paramount. It is suggested you have a pre-prepared emergency plan based on your limitations and possible emergencies.