With colder weather forecast for the rest of the week, health experts in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) are urging residents to take steps to stay warm and well, and to look out for relatives and neighbours who may need some more help.
Met Office forecasts suggest temperatures will fall over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday across the South West, posing an increased risk for more vulnerable groups including older adults and those with long-term medical conditions.
Speaking on behalf of the BNSGG Clinical Commissioning Groups, clinical lead for urgent care Dr Peter Goyder said, “Cold and damp weather including ice, snow and cold winds can be bad for your health, especially if you're aged 65 or older or have a long term condition. It can make you more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. It also increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.
“However, there are many things you can do to prepare and keep yourself healthy during this cold period. These include staying active when you’re indoors, heating your home to at least 18°C and keeping bedroom windows closed on winter nights. Many people are entitled to extra help with their heating bills so you should also check that you’re receiving all the right support.
He added: “We’re also encouraging residents to look in on their elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives during this time to make sure they are staying warm and well. Icy pavements and cold weather can stop people getting out and about so a simple offer of help with shopping, or to pick up a repeat prescription, for example, can make a big difference and reduce the risk of slips and falls.”
Older adults and those with long-term health conditions are also being encouraged to seek early help from their local pharmacist as soon as they start to feel unwell. Minor conditions can deteriorate more quickly among at-risk groups, so early advice on the best course of action is important to help prevent conditions getting worse.
Further information on staying well during cold weather, including advice on help with heating bills, is available on the NHS Choices Keep warm, keep well page.