UK Government

Department of Health: Public urged to take extra precautions to keep warm and well

Press Release   •   Dec 17, 2009 11:39 GMT

Following the Met Office’s cold weather warnings issued for the next few days The Department of Health is urging people to be aware of the risks faced during this period of cold weather.

According to reports, cold weather is now well established across the country with conditions expected to become even colder during today and Friday when temperatures will be close to freezing during the day and several degrees below freezing at night.

There will be a strong easterly /north easterly wind which will accentuate the cold.  Some snow is expected and this could be heavy on Friday in East Anglia and South East England.

People should therefore be aware of the risks. This is particularly important for older people, families with young children and people with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Cold weather is serious and claims lives every year. In particular, it can make heart and respiratory problems worse and threatens those in or approaching fuel poverty who are unable to afford to heat their homes adequately.

People can take the following practical steps to minimise the risks to themselves during periods of cold weather:

• Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day – if possible, eating regularly helps to keep energy levels up during winter
• Wear several light layers of warm clothes
• Keep as active as possible
• Remember to wrap up warm if you need to go outside on cold days

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said

“Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or those with serious illnesses.

“The Government's 'Keep Warm Keep Well' campaign gives important advice to older people on how to stay fit and healthy through the winter. "Keep warm keep well" leaflets are available in local GP's surgeries, pharmacies or council offices".

Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health (South East Coast) said

“Remembering the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk is essential. In particular, they need to keep their home at the right temperature - between 18 and 21 degrees centigrade or 64 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit -, and if they can’t heat all the rooms they use, they should heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before they go to sleep. The elderly, and those who are ill, are particularly vulnerable during cold weather.”

Notes to editors

  • Information on Keep Warm Keep Well can be found here:http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/SocialCare/Deliveringadultsocialcare/Olderpeople/DH_4076849
  • The Keep Warm Keep Well campaign has been run annually for the last 20 years by the Department of Health. The campaign contributes to the government's PSA target to eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England by 2010 and also aims to diminish excess winter mortality and relieve the pressures of winter on the NHS.
  • Some  areas of the country are experiencing extreme cold weather – to find out which areas are affected and to get an up to date forecast, please visit:http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/uk_forecast_weather.html
  • For general safety advice, please visit:http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/advice/snow.html]
  • For more information please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 020 7210 5221