Snow and ice warnings for the West Midlands prompt further health advice

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Further snow and ice warnings across England, including potential blizzards for the West Midlands, have prompted PHE doctors to warn people in areas likely to be affected, to plan ahead now.

Forecasts from the Met Office suggest parts of the West Midlands will see freezing temperatures plummeting to as low as –9°C overnight, persistent snow and blizzard conditions in some parts of the region on Thursday, with more snow and slightly raised temperatures expected over the weekend.

Public Health England’s Dr Thomas Waite said: “With more cold and for some snow on the way, now is the time to think ahead.

“Consider what you need to stock up on, do you need food or essential supplies such as medicines?

“It may be harder for some people to get out later this week when more snow arrives, so if you know someone at risk, someone with heart or lung conditions, young children or who is over 65, please take the time to check and see if there’s anything they need.

“Also remember that we are not all used to temperatures like this so keep homes heated to at least 18 degrees. If you’re able to clear paths of snow or ice, do so.

“Everyone should keep up to date with weather forecasts so you’re not caught out. Staying well in conditions like this can be a challenge, so if you can check on someone whose health may be at risk, please do.”

Met Office Chief forecaster, Andy Page said: “This spell of weather is the coldest that parts of the UK have seen since at least 2013, with extremely low temperatures and disruptive snowfall in many parts throughout the rest of the week.

“This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable people and disrupt the delivery of services so it’s really important that everyone plans ahead, keeps up to date with the forecast and warnings in their area, check for local travel information and follow the advice of local authorities and health professionals.”

Top tips to prepare for colder weather – you should:

* 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

* try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over

* stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance, have deliveries or ask a friend to help

* take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days

* seek entitlements and benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, which are available to some

* avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls

* discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby

Power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts. Find out if you meet the criteria and if so, sign up – visit ofgem.gov.uk for more information.

Useful advice on the Stay Well This Winter website: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell#s5PdIRyAAKSfrmJ8.97