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PHE North West urges people to take care as Cold Weather Alert issued across England

Health experts at Public Health England (PHE) North West have urged people to take extra care as weather forecasts suggest the winter’s first blast of cold weather is on its way.

Met Office forecasters have said today that by tomorrow (Saturday) temperatures in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber will fall below 2C.

This first drop in temperatures has prompted PHE in the North West to remind people that before cold weather arrives is the best time to prepare.

Dr Will Welfare, from PHE North West, said: “In colder weather, keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic condition such as heart disease and asthma. There are a range of health problems associated with cold housing and winter weather, but in particular, a cold indoor or outdoor environment can make heart and respiratory problems worse, and can be fatal.

“Those most at-risk include older people, very young children and those with conditions like heart and lung disease. That’s why every cold season we urge people to look out for family, friends and neighbours who may be at risk. Ask yourself if you could check on a neighbour to see if there’s anything they need?”

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 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.
• Power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts. Find out if you meet the criteria and if so, sign up. Visit https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/extra-help-energy-services/priority-services-register-people-need for more information.
• 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.
• There’s lots of useful advice on the Stay Well This Winter website: www.nhs.uk/staywell.

Dr Welfare added: “We know that more deaths occur every winter in the UK than in the summer due to a wide range of causes including cold weather, influenza and other respiratory infections. The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against flu and it’s really important to have it if you are eligible. If we all keep a close eye out for each other over the coming months hopefully we’ll all be able to Stay Well This Winter.”