The most senior doctors at Epsom and St Helier hospitals are calling on local people to stay warm and well this week, as the weather forecast predicts widespread frost and lows of minus three degrees Celsius.
The Met Office have now issued yellow and amber weather warnings in some parts of the country (including London and Surrey), with temperatures set to regularly drop below zero for the next few days.
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 the cold weather are:
- Keep plenty of water, food and warm clothing (blankets, sleeping bags) in the boot of your car if you have to go out, this will mean that if you do become stranded, you will be able to sustain yourself and keep warm until help can arrive
- Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer)
- Wear practical (ideally waterproof and insulated) footwear with good grip when walking in the snow and ice
- Check in regularly with elderly and vulnerable neighbours, friends and family who may become snowed in and unable to get food
- Keep warm - try to keep your house heated to at least 18 degrees (staying warm will help you stay healthy) and this includes your bedroom
- Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts and keep the heat in
- Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day, eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
- Keep as active in your home as possible.
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 from NHS Choices and on Public Health England. You can also check the Met Office website for the most up to date forecasts and advisories.