Guest Blog – Cold Weather Alerts 2012

This year as part of our Spread the Warmth campaign we are working with the Met Office, as part of the national Cold Weather Plan, to provide targeted information to the older people who are most at risk when a cold snap is imminent. This guest blog from the Met office sets out how the Cold Weather Plan will work:

Although winter weather and snow can be fun, they are also associated with an increase in illnesses and injuries. Severe cold weather can be dangerous for vulnerable groups such as older people and those with serious illnesses. Older people are particularly at risk as they do not feel the cold until their body temperature falls. With this in mind, the Met Office is working in partnership with the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency again this year to provide the Cold Weather Alerts that inform the Cold Weather Plan for England.

Our Cold Weather Alert service operates in England from 1 November to 31
March every year. Met Office Cold Weather Alerts are sent to NHS Trusts in England, and Age UK centres, to ensure that staff and resources are ready for any cold weather periods and those who are more vulnerable to cold weather conditions are informed / made aware and prepared. Cold Weather Alerts are also issued on our website, via weather forecasts on TV and radio and also via our Twitter feed.

Continue reading “Guest Blog – Cold Weather Alerts 2012”

Met Office Guest Blog – Cold Weather Alert Service

This year, our Spread the Warmth campaign is working with the Met Office and Department of Work and Pensions as part of the national Cold Weather Plan to provide targeted information to the older people who are most at risk, when a cold snap is imminent. The guest blog  below from the Met office sets out how the Cold Weather Plan will work:

There is a strong link between the weather and health, especially during cold weather in winter, with the elderly being especially vulnerable. As a result, this winter the Met Office has teamed-up with the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency to provide a Cold Weather Alert Service.

We have developed a range of alerts with the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency to pinpoint when winter weather will impact on people’s health. These alerts will be issued if mean temperatures are below 2 °C for 48 hours or longer, if there is heavy snow or widespread ice.

The alerts will be produced by the Met Office and will operate inEnglandfrom 1 November to 31 March. They will be sent to NHS Trusts inEngland, as well as being made available on our website and in other media.

We will also be working with AgeUK to provide their centres inEngland with the Cold Weather Alerts helping to keep the most vulnerable people well this winter.

The alerts are split into four different categories:

Level 1 – indicates winter preparedness and long-term planning and will be in place from the start of the monitoring period. This is the minimum state of vigilance during the winter. During this time social and healthcare services will ensure that there is ongoing awareness and preparedness

Level 2 – this will be triggered as soon as the risk is 60% or above for any of the three thresholds to be breached. This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential period of cold weather.

Level 3 — this will be reached when we are experiencing weather which breaches any of the three thresholds. This stage requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.

Level 4 – this will only be triggered when a period of cold weather is so severe or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. A Red level warning would be issued on advice from, or in collaboration with our Government partners. At this level, health effectsmay occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.

With up to 27,000 extra deaths each year as a result of cold weather, it is vital that we increase the awareness of the effects of cold weather on health. Our warning is designed to help people prepare for prolonged spells of cold weather and aims to reduce the number of extra deaths each year.

Last year was the coldest December in 100 years with many areas experiencing significant snowfall, widespread ice and low temperatures. Some areas saw temperatures fall as low as -20 °C overnight.

Statistics produced by the Department of Health show that for every 1°C decrease in average winter temperature inEnglandthere are approximately 8,000 extra deaths. This is why it is vital to stay one step ahead of the weather and make sure people ‘Keep Warm and Keep Well’ this winter.     

Find out more about the Spread the Warmth campaign

Find out more about the Cold Weather Alert Service