Central Bedfordshire Council is calling attention to its dedicated web page offering a wide range of advice and guidance to help reduce the affects of severe winter weather on vulnerable people as cold snaps can have an impact on health and wellbeing.
People with health problems, and particularly the elderly, can be adversely affected by severe temperatures, which are defined as those below 2°C and/or widespread ice and heavy snow.
While council teams and support groups have in place a range of measures to help protect at-risk groups and lessen the impact of cold weather it is also important for residents to keep regular contact with vulnerable people, particularly those living on their own. Ensuring they have access to warm food and drinks and that they are managing to heat their homes adequately to at least 18°C can help minimise the risk to health.
While rising energy costs have made it difficult for many households to heat their properties properly, there are a number of schemes in place which could help.
Affordable Warmth Assistance is available to eligible homeowners, while the ‘Warm homes healthy people’ scheme offers help and support for vulnerable people living in cold and damp homes – either as a homeowner or a tenant in a privately rented home, or if they have an old, inefficient heating system.
Where people do not have close family or friends nearby, they may be able to benefit from one of the 31 ‘good neighbour schemes’ in the area, set up and run by local residents to provide a structured service. These groups can help with preventing falls and improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people, as well as a range of other services.
Cllr Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care, Health and Housing, said: “Cold temperatures can cause a number of problems, especially in the health and wellbeing of the elderly and vulnerable.
“While Central Bedfordshire is yet to experience any really severe weather, it is always important to be mindful of people that are most at-risk during the winter months, so checking on any relatives, friends and neighbours can make a big difference.
“Our web page – www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/weather – has a wealth of advice, guidance and help for residents to keep well this winter.”
There are various other ways in which all people can be prepared in cold weather, including:
• staying tuned to the weather forecast
• if you have to go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes. Tell someone where you are going and when you will get back. Keep your mobile phone (if you have one) on you and charged
• clear pavements of ice or snow if you are able and it is essential to prevent trips and falls
• dress warmly, eat warm food and take warm drinks regularly; keep active
The council is also reminding walkers to be mindful of icy or slippery conditions. Wrap up warm, wear appropriate footwear and, for long walks, take with you a warm/hot drink and a snack such as a nutritional bar or a chocolate bar. It is important to heed warning signs telling people to keep off ponds, lakes and other water bodies as the ice will not be thick enough to hold a person’s weight.