As much colder weather is due to sweep across Essex at the end of this week, NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG urge local residents to take extra care. Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, particularly for the very young, older people and those with long term health conditions.
Encouraging people to keep warm and stay healthy during the winter is important, as well as looking out for people who may need extra support. When temperatures drop and the weather gets much colder, take time to check on any elderly neighbours, friends or relatives, especially those who live alone, to make sure they are warm and well.
As the colder weather approaches we would like to remind people of these top tips to stay warm and well:
- Heat your home well
By setting your heating to the right temperature (between 18-21ºC) you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills. If you feel cold at night, use a hot water bottle or electric blanket – but never use both together. It is especially important if you’re at home all day.
- Wear sensible clothing when outdoors
Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – add a hat and wear shoes with a good grip, too. If you have a heart or respiratory problem like asthma or COPD, stay indoors during very cold weather.
- Eat well and have plenty of fluids
Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.
- Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked
If you’re on medication; make sure you get your repeat prescriptions in time so you don’t run out. Check to make sure you have enough over the counter remedies for coughs and colds so you don’t need to leave home unless you have to.
- Look after yourself and others
On cold days try to avoid going outside. However, if you do need to go out, remember to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well
The colder weather increases the health risks to vulnerable patients and when weather is extreme it can disrupt some services. It can also increase demands on NHS services, particularly A&E departments. So it’s very important for people to be aware of other NHS services available to them locally to enable them to select the right care, in the right place, for their health need.
The A&E department is there to provide emergency and life threatening care, such as severe chest pains, bleeding that will not stop, fractures, chronic breathing difficulties and serious head injuries. You should never visit A&E to seek treatment for cold, flu or sore throat symptoms, or any other common minor ailments.
If you do need medical advice or help urgently, you should phone NHS 111 in the first instance. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. The NHS 111 team will book an appointment for you or will transfer you directly to the service you need to speak with. If they believe you need an ambulance for an urgent or emergency health need they will arrange this immediately for you.
If you are ever in doubt about which service to use, or you require medical advice just call NHS 111, day or night, your direct line to local NHS services.
If you have worries about a relative or elderly neighbour during the cold weather, contact your local council or call your local Age UK.
The latest Met Office update has given a level 2 alert warning of widespread overnight frosts by the weekend and less cold conditions spreading east during Saturday. To see further weather updates and alert levels, go to the Met Office website http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/#?tab=map