The most senior doctors at Epsom and St Helier hospitals are calling on local people to stay warm and well this weekend, as the weather forecast predicts widespread frost and a low of minus three degrees Celsius.
Following the mildest December on record, the Met Office have now issued weather warnings in some parts of the country, with temperatures in South West London and Surrey set to drop below zero.
Dr Ruth Charlton, Joint Medical Director, said: “Although winter weather and snow can be fun, the cold weather can have an impact on people’s health and is often associated with an increase in illnesses and injuries. It can also be a challenging season for people with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems as symptoms may worsen during a cold spell and for several days afterwards.
“Severe cold snaps can have dramatic effects on everyday life, especially for those people who are already vulnerable because of their age, illness or disability. But there are some simple precautions that you can take to keep the effects of the cold weather at bay.”
Some top tips for staying warm are:
- Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts
- Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
- Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer)
- Keep as active in your home as possible
- Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days
- If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. During the day, you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer
- If you're under 65 and healthy and active, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you're comfortable.
Dr James Marsh added: “The winter weather can also cause an increase in injuries outside of the home, as wet leaves and icy roads and pavements can be extremely slippery. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office also advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. It adds you should wait until the roads have been gritted if you're travelling by car.
“If possible, we would also urge people to check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable to cold weather. Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or people with serious illnesses, so check in on them if you can.”
More information about keeping warm and well during winter is available at www.nhs.uk.