The Met Office has issued a ‘level three’ cold weather alert across the south west – until Sunday 8 February. As a result, Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust is encouraging local residents to look out for others and to take extra care during this spell of cold weather.
A level three alert is triggered when severe weather is occurring, meaning average temperatures have dropped to 2ºC and/or widespread ice and heavy snow is expected. Although South Devon and Torbay is likely to see far less of the heavy snow forecast for other parts of the country, the drop in temperature and the resulting ice can still cause an increase in illnesses and the risk of slips and falls.
Dr Adam Morris, Medical Director at Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust, said: “Remember to check weather forecasts and plan the day around them. Take extra care if outside to prevent any accidental slips from icy and snowy pavements. Clear paths outside your house if possible.
“If you have to go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes to limit any falls. Also be sure to tell someone where you are going and an expected time when you will return. If you have a mobile phone, try to carry this with you, charged, so you can contact someone in case of an emergency.
“When indoors it is critical that people stay warm, particularly if you’re 65 or over, have long term health conditions or young children. Wear lots of thin layers, eat warm food and remember that moving about will help keep you warm.”
Top tips to prepare for colder weather:
· Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.
· Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18ºC – 21ºC, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over.
· Stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance, have deliveries or ask a friend to help.
· Take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days.
· If eligible seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some.
· If you meet the criteria register for priority service with your energy and water suppliers.
· Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls
· Discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby.
Jane Reddaway, Falls Prevention Lead at Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust said: “The weather conditions at this time of year create many more risks for people, making a fall much more likely. As we get older a fall can have a much more serious impact, affecting our confidence, independence and can even be life threatening. It is important to also be aware that black ice, which is not easily visible, could be present – this may help you make safer decisions about whether to go outside or not.
“We can all do things to reduce the risks such as wearing sensible flat footwear with a good grip and avoiding going out in bad weather conditions. Knowing that you have someone looking out for you or that can offer help makes all the difference.”
For more information on how to protect yourself this winter visit www.nhs.uk
Follow #weatheraware on Twitter for winter health advice.