This year we still have the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 together with flu and the cost of living and energy crisis. COVID-19 is likely to amplify the risks of cold weather. We know that people who are vulnerable to dying from the impact of cold temperatures overlap with those who are susceptible to illness from COVID-19. These shared risk factors mean the cold weather period is of even greater importance this year if we are to protect the health of our communities and help reduce pressure on the NHS.
We know that cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu, falls and injuries, particularly in older people and those with long-term health conditions. It is therefore important that swift action is taken when a cold weather Level 2 alert comes to you (Level 2 alert = 60% likelihood that the mean temperature is expected to be at or below 2°C for a period of 48 hours, and/or heavy snow/ widespread ice, in the coming days). Alerts are operational between now and 31st March 2023.
Key Resources For Your Service Area This Winter:
- ‘Keep Warm Keep Well’ leaflet for the public and professionals, giving advice on staying well in cold weather, covering issues such as financial help, healthy lifestyles, the flu vaccine and heating advice
- Cold Weather Plan For England
- A slide deck with all the key messages and actions for cold weather preparedness in Berkshire (attachment)
- ‘Stay Well This Winter’ NHS leaflet
- Advice about protecting your health from the cold go to the winter health pages at NHS website.
This winter it is important to identify those who are at risk of living in fuel poverty and cold homes. Asking 3 key questions at contact assessment stages can help identify those at risk:
- Is your whole house warm in winter? (This question helps to identify how people are heating their home and whether they are limiting heating to certain rooms)
- Can you afford to heat your home to a comfortable level? (This question helps to identify whether occupants are meeting ‘minimum’ recommended temperatures all the time)
- Can you afford to pay your fuel bills? (This question will flag whether someone has sufficient income to spend on the fuel they need for warmth and comfort).
Winter Vaccination Information
Vaccines are the best defence we have against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections such as flu. They provide good protection against hospitalisation and death. They also reduce the risk of long-term symptoms. The government is offering help for households, see what cost of living support you could be eligible for.
If you have any questions/queries please feel free to contact: [email protected]
With best wishes,
Public Health Team