People are being urged to look out for others, to keep warm indoors and to take care when out and about during a bitterly cold start to February.
A Level 3 Cold Weather Alert has been triggered in Cambridgeshire until 9am on Friday (February 9) with parts of the county likely to experience severe cold weather, wintry showers and frosty mornings over the coming days. Temperatures will struggle to get much above freezing this week and lows of -2C tomorrow morning and -3 on Wednesday are forecast.
Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with ongoing illnesses. Health experts at Cambridgeshire County Council are recommending some simple measures to help people stay warm and well during the cold weather.
Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Although winter weather and snow can be fun for some, these weather conditions are also associated with an increase in illness and injuries. Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases and people slip and fall in the snow or ice, sometimes suffering serious injuries. Some groups, such as older people, very young children, and people with serious medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.
“Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer when out and about, try to avoid going outside but if you do wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles. If indoors, keep your heating to the right temperature as heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing.
“We also are asking everyone to remember the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk during this period of severe cold weather. Make sure they know what to do to stay warm and are well stocked with food and medications. If you, or they, are eligible for a flu vaccination make sure you get it as soon as you can.”
The Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you and your family prepare for winter. For more information, visit nhs.uk/staywell.
Follow #winterready and #weatheraware on Twitter for winter health advice.
Top tips to keep warm during cold weather:
Keep your home warm, efficiently and safely:
heating your home to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing
get your heating system and cooking appliances checked and keep your home well ventilated
use your electric blanket as instructed and get it tested every three years. Never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket
do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home; it is inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and this can kill
make sure you have a supply of heating oil or LPG or sold fuel if you are not on mains gas or electricity – to make sure you do not run out in winter
Keep in the warmth by:
fitting draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors
making sure you have loft insulation. And if you have cavity walls, make sure they are insulated too
insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
draw your curtains at dusk to help keep heat generated inside your rooms
make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture or curtains
Look after yourself:
food is a vital source of energy and helps to keep your body warm so have plenty of hot food and drinks
aim to include five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Tinned and frozen vegetables count toward your five a day
stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy
exercise is good for you all year round and it can keep you warm in winter
if possible, try to move around at least once an hour. But remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plans
wear lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and maintain body heat
wear good-fitting slippers with a good grip indoors and shoes with a good grip outside to prevent trips, slips and falls
Make sure rubber tips on the end of sticks have a good tread – when they wear smooth they can skid on wet surfaces and should be replaced.
make sure you have spare medication in case you are unable to go out
Check if you are eligible for inclusion on the priority services register operated by your water and power supplier.
Look after others:
check on older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses to make sure they are safe, warm and well