The Met Office has issued a level two cold weather alert for parts of England.
Following warnings that severely cold weather is on the way for the north east, north west and Yorkshire and Humber, Public Helth England (PHE) is urging people to look out for those most at-risk, including older people and those with heart and lung problems.
The Met Office warned of a 70% probability of severe cold weather between now and Wednesay (November 20) and is encouraging people to ask their friends, family or neighbours if they need any support.
Dr Emer OConnell, consultant in public health at Public Health England, said people should ensure their home is heated to 18 degrees. She said:
‘Older people and those with heart and lung problems are at risk of getting sick in cold weather.
‘Keep an eye out for those who may need help staying warm, ensure they wear lots of thin layers and have everything they need.
‘Below 18 degrees, changes to the body mean that the risk of strokes, heart attacks and chest infections increase so heating homes to this temperature is particularly important to stay well.’
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said cold weather can have a serious impact on older people because ageing bodies find it harder to adjust to big changes in temperature. She said:
‘With Britain braced for a cold snap over the next few days, we urge older people to do all they can to keep warm and protect themselves against the risks the cold weather poses.
‘Exposure to the cold can have a really serious impact on older people because ageing bodies find it harder to adjust to big changes in temperature, particularly if they are coping with ill health or living in housing that costs a lot to heat. For example, the cold raises blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke, and breathing in cold air can also increase the risk, and impact, of serious illnesses like flu and pneumonia.
‘Simple precautions such as wrapping up warm when going outside, sleeping with the windows closed at night and having plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day can help keep these risks at bay.
‘We’d also urge everyone to keep a friendly eye on older relatives, friends and neighbours, especially when the weather is very bad and it’s difficult to get out. Offering to bring in some shopping, or just popping in for a chat and a cup of tea, can be a real help during the long winter months.’
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