The Met Office has said that cold conditions, presently affecting all parts of the country, are likely to stay in place for several days, meaning most people will have to contend with snow, ice and low temperatures.
Spells of weather like this can put older people, those with underlying health conditions and young children, at risk from a range of conditions because cold weather forces their bodies to work much harder than usual.
In events like this it’s possible that some people who are not in the best of health will stay at home, rather than risk venturing out in cold and icy conditions, and this can lead to feeling more isolated than usual. That’s why as this colder period continues we should all check in on those we know, whether they’re friends, family or neighbours, who may be at risk, and offer to lend a helping hand. Do they need shopping or a prescription fetching? Can they get to GP or hospital appointments? Do they just need some company? It can be all too easy for those of us who are fit and well and able to cope with the cold – but it’s really important to remember that it can leave some people feeling a bit cut off.
Top tips to prepare for colder weather
• 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
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.
If you do feel unwell consider the alternative healthcare services. Your local pharmacy can give you advice and over the counter remedies for diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches, coughs, colds and flu. To find your local pharmacy visit: www.askyourself.org.uk
You can also call 111 which is a free service and available 24 hours a day for confidential health service advice and information.
There’s also lots of useful advice on the Stay Well This Winter website: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell