Cold weather alert: Health bosses urge people to keep their homes at 18C

Heavy snow in York in Yorkshire, after Storm Eunice brought damage, disruption and record-breaking gusts of wind to the UK and Ireland, leading to the deaths of at least four people. Picture date: Saturday February 19, 2022.
Snow is forecast in some parts of the UK later this week as temperatures plummet. (PA)

People with medical conditions have been urged to heat their homes to at least 18C as Britain braces for a cold snap of winter weather this week.

The Met Office has issued a severe cold weather alert for England and warned that falling temperatures, which may plummet as low as -10C in some areas, could increase health risks to vulnerable people.

The level three, or amber, cold weather alert was issued on Monday morning and warns of severe conditions in England between 6pm on Wednesday and 9am next Monday, 12 December.

The alert requires social and healthcare services to take action to protect high-risk groups.

Government health advisers have warned the elderly and those with medical conditions to make sure their homes are warm enough.

Fans in the stands wrapped up against the weather during the Barclay Women's Super League match at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Sunday December 4, 2022.
Fans in the stands wrapped up against the weather during a Women's Super League match at the Manchester City Academy Stadium on Sunday. (PA)

Dr Agostinho Sousa, consultant in public health medicine at the UK Health Security Agency (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.

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"In rooms you mostly use such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18C if you can.

"Keep your bedroom windows closed at night. Wearing several layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer.”

As well as the cold weather alert for all of England, a yellow national severe weather warning for snow has been issued for Wednesday covering northern Scotland.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, Rebekah Sherwin, said: “Temperatures will start to dip this week, with daytime temperatures struggling to get above freezing in many places from mid-week onwards.

“Showers will turn more wintry as the week goes on with a risk of snow at times.

"We can expect to see some snow and wintry showers further south as the week progresses, particularly in coastal areas or over higher ground.

The Wallace Monument sits above the heavy fog, as the fog makes its way through the carse at Stirling this morning. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2022.
The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland, above heavy fog last week. (PA)
Terry Smith, 57, from Coventry who is undertaking the coast to coast route, which he started from Whitehaven in Cumbria, hits snow in Allenheads, in the Pennines to the north of Weardale in Northumberland. Picture date: Wednesday March 30, 2022.
There was heavy snow in Allenheads in the Pennines, Northumberland, in March. (PA)

"There will be widespread frosts with temperatures falling to as low as -10°C overnight in isolated spots by the end of the week.”

The RAC has advised motorists to check their vehicles are “winter ready”, with properly inflated tyres that have good tread.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With temperatures plummeting this week, many drivers might be taken aback by the cold after an exceptionally mild autumn.

“Drivers with older batteries in their cars might also wish to give their vehicle a 20-minute drive before colder conditions arrive to ensure the battery can cope with sub-zero temperatures.”

The Met Office’s cold weather alert system operates in England from 1 November to 31 March, every year, in association with the UKHSA.

The system comprises five levels of response based on cold weather thresholds which are designed to trigger an alert when severe cold weather is likely to significantly affect people’s health.

Watch: Storm Eunice brings snow to County Durham