An older person in the cold weather surrounded by snow.

Staying Safe in the Cold Weather

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that it’s pretty cold out there at the moment! Snow has hit London after causing major disruption across the south of England, with windchill creating a sub-zero feel across parts of the capital. As exciting as it can be to see the roads and pavements covered in snow, there are some serious risks that the cold weather brings. Exposure to the cold can have a devastating impact on older people, who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures. As people get older it takes longer to warm up which can be bad for health. Breathing in cold air lowers the body temperature, and raises the risk of chest infections, heart attacks and strokes.

This is why it’s imperative to take steps to protect your self from the cold weather, as well as checking in on friends, family, and neighbours – especially if they are vulnerable. Luckily our friends Age UK have some simple tips for dealing with the chill:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. It might seem obvious, but it’s good to know what to expect! The Met Office’s cold weather alerts are a handy way of warning about cold weather conditions in advance – so you can take extra precautions to keep safe and well. They operate from November 1 to March 31 every year, in association with Public Health England. They are issued by the Met Office when one of the following happens: The mean temperature falls below 2°C for 48 hours or longer; There’s heavy snow and/or widespread ice.
  2. If bad weather is forecast, make sure you have everything you need. Check you’ve got enough medication and stock up on food to keep in the cupboards or freezer in case it’s harder to leave the house.
  3. Take extra care if the ground is slippery. Wear shoes with good grip and consider keeping salt and sand mixture handy to grit paths. You could ask your neighbours for help to clear paths or driveways clear in bad weather – the vast majority of people are more than happy to help.
  4. Plan ahead when driving. Try to avoid going out in the car in bad weather if at all possible, and make sure you follow advice on driving conditions near you. If you do need to go out, keep blankets, some snacks and a shovel in the car in case you get stuck.
  5. Have a torch at home in case of a power cut. Don’t forget to check the batteries!
  6. Keep emergency numbers nearby. Having the number for your energy supplier on hand can be really helpful if there’s a power cut. You can also register with your supplier so they’ll call you in the event of a power cut.

It’s also especially important to keep your spirits up during the winter months! Make sure you wrap up warm and settle in with a favourite activity, whether that’s reading, knitting, or watching television. If you can’t get out and about, arrange for friends and family to visit over winter, or use phone, email, or Skype to stay in contact.

Whilst the snow may already be disappearing, the cold weather looks set to remain for a good few days yet. Stay safe and warm in the meantime and be sure to contact your local Age UK if you need any further advice, guidance, or assistance!


George Harvey

George is Age UK London's Communications and Campaigns Officer.

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