Advice issued as Somerset braces for cold snap

By Laura Linham

7th Dec 2022 | Local News

With low temperatures and potentially severe overnight frosts forecast across Somerset from Wednesday, residents are being urged to stay warm and keep an eye out for people who are vulnerable to the effects of cold weather.

The Met Office has issued a cold weather alert for Somerset and other areas of England. The 'Level 3' alert is in place from 6pm on Wednesday 7 December, until 9am on Monday 12 December.

Councillor Adam Dance, Lead Executive Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity said: "Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk.

"Staying warm during cold weather is really important and there are some simple steps we can all take to help ourselves and vulnerable friends and family. In rooms you use often such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18°C if you can.

If you are unable to keep your home warm, please do take advantage of the Warm Welcome spaces that have been set up across Somerset. These venues offer a warm and friendly environment where people can socialise, stay warm and access information and support for their wellbeing."

Top tips to prepare for colder weather:

  • Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.
  • There are grants, benefits and advice to help make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. It's worthwhile claiming all the benefits you are entitled to before winter sets in. Find out more at www.somerset.gov.uk/cost-of-living
  • Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over. If you can't heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to sleep. If you are unable to keep your home warm, visit one of Somerset's Warm Welcome spaces. Find a space near you and check their opening days and times at Find a Warm Welcome | SPARK (sparksomerset.org.uk).
  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer; this will trap the heat better to keep you warm. Thin layers of clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good for maintaining body heat.
  • If eligible, seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some.
  • Keep moving if you can, this will help keep you warm. Try not to sit for more than an hour, get up and walk around, make a hot drink and spread housework throughout the day.
  • Prepare for cold weather. Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, warm clothes and any medication so you don't have to go out too much when it's cold or icy.
  • Check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses to make sure they are safe, warm and well.

The the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging people to heat rooms that are used the most to at least 18C, "several layers of thinner clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer. Having plenty of hot food and drinks is also effective for keeping warm," the agency added.

The rising cost of energy has prompted concerns that some people could resist using their heating, even during the unseasonably cold temperatures expected this week.

Dr Agostinho Sousa of the UKHSA said: "Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk.

"If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you."

Drivers are recommended to prepare a winter kit for their cars that includes an ice scraper and de-icer, an in-car phone charger, warm clothes and blankets and a shovel.

Bringing food and drink is also advised, such as a hot drink in a flask.

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