Health experts are urging local people to look out for their neighbours, friends and family with the Met Office announcing a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert has been issued for all regions of England.

These are issued when severe weather is occurring, when average temperatures have dropped to 2°C or below, and/or widespread ice and heavy snow is present.

Winter conditions can be seriously bad health, especially for those aged 65 or more, under 5 years and for people who have an on-going health problem. The cold weather can increase the risk of chest infections, raising blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. People with chest conditions are at particular at risk of becoming ill during periods of cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds. Icy ground is also a hazard that can lead to falls and broken bones.

In Cambridgeshire alone there are around 180 deaths per year linked to cold weather. By taking action now, it could save the life of a neighbour, friend or a loved one. It could be by popping in for a chat and a hot drink to see how they are, making sure they are keeping warm and eating properly or by doing some shopping for them or collecting a prescription.

Cambridgeshire County Council is working with a range of partners to spread the message and about the dangers of the cold. A range of support, help and advice is available on how to stay warm and well this winter via the helpline 03456500280.

These simple tips to help keep yourself, friends and family stay well this winter:

1.      Heat the home well

Heat the home to a minimum of 18°C (65°F), and make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather. Above this and people may be wasting money; below this and there is a risk health. This will keep the home warm and may lower the bills.

2    Get financial support

There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make the home more energy efficient, improve the heating, or help with bills.

3.      Eat well and have plenty of fluids

Food and water are vital sources of energy; they help keep a person's body warm. People should make sure they and their family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.

4.      Get a flu jab

Certain groups can get a free flu jabs to protect against seasonal flu, including the over 65s, pregnant women, people with a long term illness or if someone is the main carer of an elderly or disabled person. 

5.      Look after yourself and others

On cold days try to avoid going outside. If a person does need to venture out, they need to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. Look out for an older or vulnerable neighbour or relative during this winter to make sure they are safe and well.

If you need medical help fast, but it's not life threatening or you're not sure where to go call 111. A 111 adviser will assess you and direct you to the best placed service in your area. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "The recent mild weather may have lulled us into thinking that winter doesn't have a bite, but we are expecting a cold snap over the next few days and it can be dangerous to health. If you know someone who is likely to be vulnerable to the cold, please check on them by popping in on them to see if they need any help with coping with the cold weather. I'm sure they would also appreciate the company particularly if they live alone.  There is a range of support on offer, so if you  need help keeping warm or know someone who does call our helpline on 03456500280."

Cambridgeshire County Council is working with a range of local organisations to promote staying warm and well this winter. Partners include Care Network Cambridgeshire, Age UK Cambridgeshire, Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and District Councils.



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