Stay Safe, Stay Warm

We want to help people recognise the signs of hypothermia and how they can help those they think are at risk.

Our team

Our skilled team are trained to respond to hypothermia symptoms. In addition to overdose treatment, the Street Team also carries life saving winter issue equipment. 

 

Throughout the last year, Glasgow had up to 40 people sleeping rough on the streets at any one time. The Street Team and our partners actively worked to prevent a multitude of people every week from having to sleep outdoors. We are working hard to find the right solution for each and every one of the people we support.

People on the streets

We don’t want to see people living on the streets. It’s unsafe, unhealthy and highly risky. However for a broad range of reasons some people do rough sleep.

 

ALWAYS START by phoning our Street Teams

Our staff are out every day in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In severe weather we’ll have extra staff working in the evenings to support people into shelter. Our staff are trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of hypothermia, carry special equipment and know how to respond if someone is at risk. If you are concerned about someone then call us: Edinburgh 0808 178 2323 or Glasgow 0800 027 7466

Further advice

Find a safe place to sleep

  • If sleeping rough, it’s better (when possible) to sleep where other people are sleeping.
  • Look for brightly lit and sheltered areas. Also look for CCTV cameras.
  • Cardboard is a good insulator and can help keep people off the ground.
  • If possible, a bed roll is easily transportable.

Unsafe places

People do sometimes seek cover in unsafe places:

  • Large lidded bins, which can result in crush injuries or death if the bin is emptied.
  • Empty or derelict buildings, with associated risks around fire safety and building collapse.
  • Under bridges, on river banks or near the sea, streams or canals or drains or gullies, which are dangerous in the event of heavy or prolonged rainfall.
  • Isolated remote areas where they may be assaulted.

PLEASE call our Street Team if you see anyone at risk of rough sleeping near these areas.

How to dress for the weather

  • Layers are better than heavy clothes.
  • Head and face, legs, hands and feet are the most difficult parts of the body to keep warm.
  • Long Johns (or Under Armour), a balaclava and warm socks really do help.
  • An extra tip for warmth is to try stuffing plastic bags between trousers and Long Johns for an extra layer.

Food and drink

Warm food and drink help to heat the body and provide fuel to maintain heat. Often rough sleepers are inactive, staying in one place for long periods so high calorific foods, warm drinks and warm clothing all help.

Symptoms of hypothermia

Early signs of hypothermia include:

  • shivering
  • cold and pale skin
  • slurred speech
  • fast breathing
  • tiredness
  • confusion

These are symptoms of mild hypothermia, where someone’s body temperature is between 32C and 35C.

If a person’s temperature drops to 32C or lower, they will usually stop shivering completely and may pass out. This is a sign that their condition is getting worse and emergency medical help is needed.

People using drugs and alcohol are more vulnerable to hypothermia as their bodies lose heat faster. Inactivity, wet clothing, inappropriate clothing and poor health are all high risk factors. Hypothermia can be serious if not treated quickly. It can kill you.

If you notice signs of hypothermia, call 999 and give first aid.

More advice is available on the NHS UK website

As our colleagues in Scottish Mountain Rescue tell us, the most effective solution to hypothermia is ‘we get them off the mountain’. Our most effective solution to hypothermia is to get people off the streets.