Press release

Cold weather alert for England

Public Health England issues guidance as Met Office forecasts colder weather.

As colder weather sweeps across the country, the Met Office has today (13 January 2016) updated the Level 2 cold weather alert. This now affects all parts of England.

Dr Angie Bone of Public Health England (PHE) is reminding people to look out for others, to keep warm indoors and to take care when out and about. Dr Bone said:

Over the past few weeks we’ve had some very disruptive weather, but temperatures have been quite mild – now the weather looks like it will turn cold in much of the country which will be a significant change for many of us.

That’s why it’s so important to remember that cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren’t at their lowest. Most of our advice on keeping warm in cold weather may seem like common sense, it’s important that we make the point that people should think about how cold can affect them.

Our advice is that when indoors, have plenty of warm food and drinks to stay warm and try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you have to sit still for long periods, have long term illness or are 65 or over.

Before bad weather arrives is a good time to think about how the bad weather may affect your friends and family, particularly if they are older or very young or have pre-existing health conditions. These groups can be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold so think now what you could do to help - if you, or they, are eligible for a flu vaccination make sure you get it as soon as you can.

Will Lang, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said:

This week will see cold air spread across the UK as the wind changes to a northwesterly, in marked contrast to the recent mild weather. There will be rain or showers at times which could fall as sleet or snow, perhaps at lower levels, but also some winter sunshine. It will be cold at night with overnight frosts and a risk of ice.

The Cold Weather Plan for England sets out a series of actions that health and social care organisations, voluntary and community groups, and individuals can take and plan for cold temperatures to help reduce cold-related illnesses and deaths.

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, 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
  • 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, if unable to do so yourself

For more cold weather advice visit NHS Choices.

Background information

  • A level 2 cold weather alert means there is a forecast in which there is at least a 60% chance of weather in which average temperatures will drop to at least 2°C or below.
  • The Cold Weather Plan for England is updated each year to provide health and social care services with emergency planning and preparedness guidance in the event of severe weather and periods of cold weather.
  • For more information about the Cold-Weather Alert system visit the Met Office website.
  • Read more information on winter preparedness.
  • Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk.

Public Health England press office

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