Keep warm and well in the freeze

Somerset’s Public Health lead is urging people to keep warm and well and look out for their vulnerable friends, family and neighbours during the cold weather.

The Met Office has issued an amber snow warning for South West England which could see some significant snowfalls in the Somerset across this afternoon (Thursday, 31 January), into tomorrow morning (Friday, 1 February).

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health, Somerset County Council said: “We are encouraging residents to keep themselves safe and warm. Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.

“Check weather forecasts regularly and plan the day around them. Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls.

“If you have to go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes to limit any falls. Also be sure to tell someone where you are going and an expected time when you will return. If you have a mobile phone, try to carry this with you, charged, so you can contact someone in case of an emergency.

“When you are indoors it is critical that people stay warm, particularly if you’re 65 or over, have long term health conditions or young children. Wear lots of thin layers, eat warm food and remember that moving about will help keep you warm.”

Top tips to prepare for colder weather:

  • Look out for friends, family and neighbours 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 18C, 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.
  • If eligible seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some.
  • If you meet the criteria register for priority service with your energy and water suppliers.
  • Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls.

The NHS advises that A&E and 999 services are for life-threatening and serious conditions. Your local high-street pharmacy can help with minor illnesses and complaints such as coughs, colds, flu, stomach upsets, aches and sprains.

If you feel it’s not a 999 emergency, but need medical help fast, dial 111.

NHS Choices has full information on winter health including free flu vaccination eligibility or ask your GP surgery or Pharmacist www.nhs.uk/winterhealth

Public Health England leaflet “Keep Warm, Keep Well” offers information on cold weather benefits and help available. Read the financial help to heat your home section in the leaflet www.gov.uk

Follow #winterready and #weatheraware on Twitter for winter health and some general advice.

If you want more information about how cold weather can affect your health please visit www.nhs.uk

If you are concerned about your health or somebody you care for, advice can be obtained from NHS 111 or your local pharmacist or visit www.nhs.uk/winterhealth

Submitted by Communications