Advice from the HSE

Health Advice - Keeping Well and Warm

Everyone, especially older or more vulnerable people, should remember to take extra care during a cold spell. Elderly people should not venture outdoors in severe weather if possible. The public are asked to make a special effort to keep in contact with their neighbours and relatives, particularly those living alone.


  • Keep warm, eat well and avoid unnecessary travel
  • Call on elderly relatives and neighbours and ensure they have sufficient supplies of food and of any prescription drugs they may need
  • Ensure that older people have sufficient fuel supplies to maintain adequate heating in their homes

Medical Appointments

If travel services or roads are disrupted due to bad weather, you may need to change planned visits to hospital or other health centres for appointments or even a planned operation. If severe disruption occurs, some health services may have to change their operating times. If you have a question about any planned appointments, please phone the hospital or facility that you are due to attend to check on any changes to services.

Health Advice - Drinking Water

If your water supply is disrupted due to severe weather, you will find health advice on drinking water supplies on the website

Preventing Falls and Trips

Emergency Departments around the country can be busy in severe weather, dealing with sprains and fractures as a result of slips and falls on icy roads and footpaths. While both young and old present to Emergency Departments as a result of falls on ice, as we get older a fall can result in broken bones, a loss of confidence, loss of mobility and fear of leaving the home. Many falls can be prevented and by making small changes we can reduce the chances of falling.

Accidents do happen but many slips, trips and falls are preventable. A leaflet, ‘Keep Safe This Winter – Preventing Falls and Trips’, is available on the website with lots of helpful tips on how to be safe in your home and outdoors this winter. You can also contact your Local Health Office for more advice.

Fall prevention in your home

  • Leave a low energy light on at night time, preferably one with a high light output
  • Use a non-slip shower or bath mat
  • Make sure wires or cords from lamps, telephones etc. do not trail where you walk
  • Arrange furniture so that you can easily move around all your rooms
  • Keep the floors clear from papers and books etc. that could cause you to trip
  • Remove rugs or use non-slip tape or backing so rugs will not slip Consider installing hand rails on both sides of the stairs

Keep well this winter – for more information visit

Guide - Health icon

Personal Safety – Staying Safe

  • In icy weather, wear well-fitted shoes with non-slip soles if you have to go out but try to limit walking during the cold weather
  • Have your vision checked. Your eyesight changes as you get older; poor vision can increase your chances of falling
  • As you get older you may need to change the dose of your medicines – check with your doctor. Some medicines or combinations of medicines may make you feel faint or light-headed which could lead to a fall
  • Consider wearing a personal alarm so that family or neighbours are alerted if you fall
  • Eat regular hot meals and drink plenty of fluids, this will keep you warm and will give you energy to keep active
  • If you have a fall, even a minor one, make sure you visit your doctor for a check up