Cold weather prompts further health warnings from Public Health England

Arrival of cold weather across Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and North West of England that is due to spread across the rest of the country has prompted further warnings from Public Health England to look out for others and to take extra care during the cold, snowy conditions.

A band of rain, sleet and snow followed by a very cold and frosty period is forecast to spread southeast across the country from today until Saturday December 30.

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Because every winter cold triggers thousands of illnesses and deaths across the UK, PHE is urging people to wrap up warm and take extra care when out and about.

Dr Thomas Waite of the Extreme Events team at PHE said:

“Cold weather like this is part of winter – but just because we’re used to it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to protect ourselves from falling ill. Every winter thousands of people die from illnesses linked to exposure to the cold when indoors and outside – that’s why it’s so important we all look out for each other.

“During this Christmas period many people will be out and about more, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared when leaving the home. Also, there will be a number of people who will have been on their own all this time. If you can, check on family, friends and neighbours who are older, have young children or who have heart and lung conditions. All these groups are particularly vulnerable to cold.

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“Keep a close eye on weather forecasts so you’re up-to-date with what’s happening in your area, keep homes heated to at least 18°C and remember wearing several thin layers can be more effective than fewer thicker ones.”

Steve Willington, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office said:

A band of rain, sleet and snow will slowly clear east during Wednesday, with sunny but cold weather following. However some wintry showers could also move into North Sea coasts. A cold, breezy night follows with widespread frost, and a risk of ice. Thursday will then be cold and sunny, although wintry showers are likely to spread southeast from Northwest England into the Midlands. This will be followed by winds easing, and a very cold, and frosty overnight period. Milder conditions are expected to move across all parts by Saturday morning.

Top tips to prepare for colder weather

You should:

  • look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately
  • try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over
  • stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance, have deliveries or ask a friend to help
  • take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days
  • seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some
  • avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls.
  • discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby
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Power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts. Find out if you meet the criteria and if so, sign up. Visit ofgem.gov.uk for more information.

There’s lots of useful advice on the Stay Well This Winter website.