NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is warning Bedfordians to prepare for colder weather and to watch out for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.
The warning comes after the Met Office issued a Level 2 cold weather alert for the area between 18 and 21 January which could see temperatures around 0ºc and lower.
Health bosses have issued the following tips:
- Heat your home well – Set your heating to between 18-21ºC so you can keep your home warm and lower your bills. Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (never together) if you feel cold at night.
- Eat well and have plenty of fluids – Keep energy levels up to help keep your body warm with hot meals and regular drinks throughout the day.
- Get a flu jab – If you are over 65, pregnant, or have a long-term condition, you can get free flu jabs to protect against seasonal flu.
- Look after yourself and others – Try and stay indoors on very cold days but if you do wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. Check in on older neighbours or relatives.
- Store enough medicine – Have enough medication for cold and flu symptoms or your repeat prescriptions so you don’t run out. You can register to order repeat prescriptions online
Heather Moulder, BCCG Clinical Chair, said: “Cold weather can be dangerous, particularly if you are more susceptible to illness because you are elderly or have a long-term medical condition.
“So, we are urging the most vulnerable to take a few simple precautions to protect themselves from the cold – as it could save their life. Keep yourself warm in and outdoors…
“Before the bad weather arrives everyone should think about how severe cold weather may affect friends and family, particularly if they are older or very young or have pre-existing health conditions.”
Meanwhile, Bedfordshire Homeless Partnership say that emergency shelters for rough sleepers are now also open.
A spokesperson for the partnership said: “Due to falling temperatures, the Severe Weather Shelter is now open in Bedford Borough, from tonight, Thursday 17th January.
“This provision is triggered when temperatures fall to zero or below for three consecutive nights, and is funded by Bedford Borough Council.
“The shelter is expected to remain open until at least Wednesday, 23rd January, but possibly until the end of the month, when temperatures are forecast to rise again; however we will advise of any further updates.
“The shelter is based at the Salvation Army Outreach Centre on Elstow Road, and is available for anyone sleeping rough in the Borough.
“It opens at 9pm each evening, and visitors will get an evening meal, a bed for the night and a light breakfast in the morning.
“They will also be able to access support to help them move off the streets for good. Please let any rough sleepers know, to help save lives during this cold spell.”