People urged to help others as Arctic blast brings coldest spell of winter so far

Health experts are urging people to look out for others, to keep warm indoors and to take care when out and about as the coldest spell of the winter so far sets in next week. 

With an Arctic blast from Russia set to sweep across the country this weekend bringing with it a bitterly cold wind, snow showers and icy conditions, a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert has been issued in Cambridgeshire until 3pm on Saturday (March 3). Temperatures are forecast to reach barely above freezing next week with a minimum temperature as low as -5C in some parts of the county.

The Met Office says the high pressure over Scandinavia bringing the cold easterly air is expected to remain in place for several days and there are signs that the cold spell in the UK is likely to last well into next week and perhaps into the following week.

Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease.

Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "It is vital that during this prolonged period of cold weather, people act to keep themselves and their home warm and well.Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases along with the danger of people slipping and falling in the snow or ice, sometimes suffering serious injuries. Some groups, especially older people, very young children, and people with serious medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.

“We 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.

“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.”

The Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you and your family prepare for winter. For more information, visit

Other useful contacts:

  • Age UK: 0800 169 6565 (8am to 7pm seven days per week) 
  • Gingerbread (advice an practical support for single parents) 0808 802 0925 (10am-6pm Mon, 10am-4pm Tues, Thurs, Fri10am-1pm, 5pm-7pm Wed.) 
  • SCOPE and DIAL UK (advice an support for disabled people and their families) SCOPE 0808800 3333 (9am-5pm Monday – Friday), DIAL UK SCOPE helpline 9am-5pm Monday – Friday) 
  • If you have problems with heating equipment contact your local Council for 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