The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Met Office upgraded their guidance on Monday (8 January) to signal the cold weather could affect everyone's health - but particularly vulnerable people including the elderly, very young, pregnant mums, and anyone with long-term conditions. A range of services, not just health-related like the NHS, could also be impacted.
The alert, initially issued last week as a less severe yellow warning, will remain in force until midday, Friday (12 January), with daytime temperatures stuck in low single figures and some nights dipping below freezing. Ice and dustings of snow will make surfaces extra slippery in the early part if the week. Widespread early morning frosts are also expected.
Given this, residents are asked to check in on vulnerable family, friends and neighbours to make sure they keep safe and follow practical advice.
KCC Director of Public Health, Dr Anjan Ghosh, said: “Staying warm and well during cold spells is important for everyone, but particularly for people who are more susceptible to low temperatures.
“Given the sometimes delayed impacts of cold weather on our health, please keep looking out for the vulnerable people in your life, including our older residents, the very young, anyone with heart and respiratory conditions or poor mental health - and follow commonsense advice. If you are struggling, please visit kent.gov to find out what help is available.
“Heating one room to at least 18°c, having hot food and drinks and getting the free seasonal vaccines on offer if eligible can all help protect against illness brought on by the cold, such as heart attacks and strokes – reducing the need for NHS treatment or trip to A&E.”
Kate Langford, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “Prolonged cold weather can be a risk for anyone, but those who are vulnerable, including elderly people, those with breathing difficulties, and children under five, are particularly at risk.
"If you do need NHS help, NHS 111, online or via phone, is there for you and we list all pharmacies and urgent treatment centres at the Stop Think Choose website.”
Brian Horton, Chair of the Kent Housing Group, said: “It is important for tenants in both the social rented and private rented sectors to work closely with their landlords to ensure that their homes are warm and safe places during the winter.
“Our advice to all tenants in Kent and Medway is clear – if you have a problem with issues like damp and mould, faulty heating systems or hot water supply don’t delay, contact your landlord today.”
- Visit KCC's winter health web page and ‘Keep well and be a winter friend this winter’ for more information about how to keep yourself and others safe during very cold weather.
- Read more about how to get your home and property ‘winter ready’ and keeping your home warm this winter on the Met Office website.
- In an emergency, always call 999, but avoid using the blue-light services and A&E if you don’t need to.
- If you are in any doubt about what service to use, visit Stop, Think, Choose or call NHS111 so you get the right treatment. You can also download the NHS app to access a range of health services from your phone or tablet.
Article courtesy of Kent County Council