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  1. ITV Report

Health advice ahead of cold spell: Keep an eye on vulnerable friends and family

Public Health Wales is advising members of the public to look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold as a wintry spell is predicted in parts of Wales.

Every winter thousands of people fall ill and many die because of exposure to cold both in the home and while outdoors.

Cold weather can pose serious population health risks, causing ‘excess’ deaths in winter compared with the rest of the year. Credit: PA

Those most at-risk include older people, very young children and those with conditions like heart and lung disease.

  • Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, 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.
  • Seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some.

Cold weather can pose serious population health risks, causing ‘excess’ deaths in winter compared with the rest of the year.

Public Health Wales is advising members of the public to look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold. Credit: PA

More deaths occur every winter in the UK than in the summer due to a wide range of causes including cold weather, influenza and other respiratory infections.

The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu and it’s really important to have it if you are eligible.

If we all keep a close eye out for each other over the coming months hopefully we’ll all be able to stay well this winter.

Most of us are well used to winter in this country so we know what to do to protect our health before and during cold spells, but there are people who may not take precautions and who are at a very real risk.

– Huw Brunt, Lead Consultant in Environmental Health Protection, Public Health Wales

Cold weather brings the risk of hypothermia, falls and injuries, heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and flu.

Indirect effects of cold include mental health illnesses such as depression, and carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly maintained or poorly ventilated boilers, cooking and heating appliances.