NORTHUMBERLAND residents are being urged to take extra care of themselves, elderly relatives and neighbours during winter.
With very cold temperatures expected in the coming weeks, the local NHS is warning that people need to be prepared for freezing weather as the risk of illness, injury and conditions like hypothermia significantly increases.
They are being asked to look out for vulnerable friends and neighbours, check they are warm enough, especially at night, and have food and medicines so they don’t need to go out.
Those who are on repeat prescriptions are urged to plan ahead and make sure they have enough medication to carry them over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.
Prof Sue Milner, Director of Public Health for Northumberland Care Trust, said: “With winter upon us it is very important to protect yourself against the cold. Around half of all deaths that are caused by cold weather are due to heart disease or stroke.
“It’s particularly important for the elderly to keep warm during the winter. Colder weather increases blood pressure and those already with heart and vascular disease are most at risk from developing a stroke or heart problem in cold conditions.
“Also, the elderly are often at greater risk from the cold because they may not keep their houses at a warm enough temperature during the winter months.
“Living in temperatures under 16 degrees can diminish resistance to respiratory diseases, increase blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Living in temperatures of only five degrees poses a high risk of hypothermia.”
Vulnerable people also include those with long-term health conditions such as heart or lung disease, babies and very young children and those with disabilities.
During the winter, residents are asked to choose the most appropriate NHS service for the seriousness of their symptoms. For more information, telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.