Public urged to keep warm as health alert is issued amid temperature drop

An amber cold-health alert has been issued across the whole of the north west from now until midday on Friday 12 January as temperatures drop.

Children, older people and other vulnerable groups can be particularly at risk in colder temperatures, while people with long-term health conditions, such as respiratory and heart conditions, may find that symptoms are exacerbated.

By being prepared for the cold weather, those most at-risk can protect themselves against the worst of the winter weather.

Dr Peter Gregory, associate medical director at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), which organises healthcare services in the region, said: “Keeping warm, both indoors and outdoors, is important in winter as this can help prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can worsen any existing health problems, increase the risk of a fall, and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses.”

Here are a few tips that can help people stay warm this winter:

  • If you go outside for a walk, remember to wear thin layers of cotton, wool or fleecy fibres to keep you warm.
  • Also make sure you wear shoes with good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect you from the cold air, and to reduce the risk of chest infections.
  • Stay inside in bad weather if you don’t have to go out.
  • If possible, try to keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed.
  • To minimise the risks to your health, if you’re not moving about as much at home and inactive for long periods you should wear warm clothing indoors and if possible, heat your home to at least 18°C (65F).
  • Keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
  • If you use an electric blanket always check it regularly for signs of wear or damage. Never use an electric blanket and a hot water bottle at the same time. If you’re in any doubt about your blanket, contact the manufacturer before you use it to make sure that it is safe. It may need to be replaced.
  • Make sure you’re getting all the help that you’re entitled to. There are grants, benefits and advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.

Dr Gregory added: “It’s always a good idea to prepare for the winter months especially if you’re vulnerable. You can do this by stocking up on food essentials such as long-life milk, tins of soup and keeping bread in the freezer. Also, make sure you have enough medication and remember to get repeat prescriptions filled in advance.

“You’ll naturally feel more tired during the winter so it’s important to have a good night’s sleep and eating your five-a-day of fruit and veg will help boost your energy levels.”

Indoor temperatures should be kept at a minimum of 18 degrees in the rooms regularly used, such as the living room and bedroom. Councils across Lancashire and South Cumbria have set up cost of living support pages, with details available here: https://www.lancashireandsouthcumbria.icb.nhs.uk/costofliving

If feeling unwell, get medical help as soon as possible. Pharmacists are experts in medicine and can provide treatment for a range of mild illnesses. Alternatively, speak to a GP or use the NHS 111 service (111.nhs.uk or call 111) if it’s an urgent medical problem. In a life-threatening emergency, visit A&E or call 999.

The government is providing support to millions of people across the UK to help them with their energy bills this winter. Further information can be found here: get help with your energy bills.


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