Press release

PHE issues cold weather alert

Forecasts for snow and ice across most of England have prompted a week-long warning from the Met Office, and 'take care' calls from PHE.

Cold weather alert

The Met Office has today (4 February 2015) extended the Level 3 cold weather alert to now include the East of England. Yesterday (Tuesday 3 February 2015), the South West was put on a Level 3 footing while all other regions, except London which remains Level 2, were already on Level 3 status. This period of cold weather is expected to last until the weekend.

The Level 3 alerts are issued when severe weather is occurring. This is when average temperatures have dropped to 2°C or below, and/or widespread ice and heavy snow is present. Level 2 alerts are issued when there is a greater than 60% chance that we will see this weather within 48 hours.

Frank Saunders, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, said:

Cold conditions will persist, with widespread overnight frosts, locally severe, and low daytime temperatures. The cold conditions will be accentuated at times by strong winds, especially across eastern and southern England later in the week.

Dr Angie Bone, head of Extreme Events at Public Health England, said:

Further parts of the country are really going to feel cold for the next few days so it’s important people take extra care when out and about.

It’s worth remembering that while most outdoor slips, trips and falls in weather like this are of those who are of working age, accidents can happen to anyone. So if you’re heading out wear lots of thin layers and shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip.

If you’re staying indoors have plenty of warm food and drinks to stay warm. Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are over 65, and check weather forecasts and plan your day around them.

Also take some 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.

Although most of our advice on keeping warm and well in cold weather may seem like common sense, it’s important to remember that cold kills, even in places where the temperatures aren’t at their lowest.

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 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


Notes to editors

  1. 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.
  2. Find out about the Met Office’s Cold Weather Alert system.
  3. 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, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards

Chilton, OX11 0RQ

Published 26 January 2015
Last updated 4 February 2015 + show all updates
  1. Further extension of Level 3 Cold Weather Alert status for one part of England.
  2. Fresh Met Office cold forecasts raise chance of bad weather across England.
  3. Added updated cold weather alert levels by the Met Office.
  4. The cold weather alert levels have been raised for all parts of England, except London. All of northern England is now on Level 3, the midlands and south are now on Level 2.
  5. First published.