As colder weather sweeps across the area this week, NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging people in the area to take extra care. Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with chronic diseases.
The Met Office has issued a Level 3 cold weather alert for the West Midlands area and is urging caution during the severe weather conditions which could mean temperatures of 2°C and/or widespread ice and heavy snow.
Dr Peter Ingham, Clinical Chair Designate at NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“Cold and damp weather – ice, snow and cold winds – can be bad for your health, especially if you're aged 65 or older. It can make you more vulnerable to winter illnesses, such as coughs and colds, which could become very serious. However, there are things you can do to stay well.
“Remember to check weather forecasts and plan the day around them. Take extra care if outside to prevent any accidental slips from icy and snowy pavements. Clear paths outside your home if possible and if you have to go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes to limit any falls. Also be sure to tell someone where you are going and an expected time when you will return. If you have a mobile phone, try to carry this with you, charged, so you can contact someone in case of an emergency.
“It’s important that you dress warmly, wear shoes with good grip if heading outside, and look out for vulnerable people. If able clear your drive & pathways to prevent accidents and keep your home heated to at least 18°C if you can. Ensure you have plenty of warm food and drinks to keep you warm.
“It only takes a few simple measures to protect yourself and your family from winter-related illnesses and incidents. People can keep warm and healthy by following our five top tips.
- Heat your home well
By setting your heating to the right temperature (between 18-21ºC) you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills. If you feel cold at night, use a hot water bottle or electric blanket – but never use both together. It is especially important if you’re at home all day.
- Eat well and have plenty of fluids
Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.
- Don’t forget 111
You can get advice 24 hours a day by calling NHS 111. Depending on the situation, the NHS 111 team can connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist or even a GP, and can arrange face-to-face appointments if they think you need one.
- Look after yourself and others
On cold days try to avoid going outside. However, if you do need to go out, remember to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well.
- Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked
If you’re on medication, make sure you get your repeat prescriptions in time so you don’t run out. If you haven’t already, talk to your GP practice about registering for Patient Online. Simply complete the paperwork and you’ll be able to request repeat prescriptions online as well as make GP appointments. Check to make sure you have enough over the counter remedies for coughs and colds so you don’t need to leave home unless you have to.