Neighbourhood watchers wanted
Published on 15 January 2013 11:30 AM
Caring postmen and milkmen are being urged to check up on vulnerable people whose health may be at risk during the winter.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said it has appealed to 'public-minded' people to look out for residents who may be struggling to heat their homes.
Temperatures are forecast to drop below zero during the next few days and high energy costs have raised fears that the deaths could increase this winter. During last winter, which was not unreasonably cold, 24,000 people died in England and Wales as a result of the cold.
The LGA has asked people to keep an eye out for people whose health may be suffering.
Councillor David Rogers, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: 'As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, council teams are ready to be drafted in to provide a variety of services to help the vulnerable deal with the severe winter weather, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters.'
But he said that council workers are limited in number and that extra support from the community could help prevent deaths.
Appeal to keep an eye on vulnerable people during cold weather
In particular, the LGA is appealing to residents, postmen and goods deliverers to be aware of vulnerable people in their community and to report anyone who may need extra assistance.
He added: 'They may just need an extra blanket getting down from the loft or perhaps they didn't get out to collect their medicine this week. It takes no time to check in but could potentially save lives.'
Mr Rogers, an East Sussex councillor, also said that landlords have a responsibility to ensure that heating systems work, and that repairs are carried out urgently. He also said that councils can enforce boiler repairs if there is a delay.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK, urged older people to take the Met Office's latest warning very seriously and do everything they can to protect themselves from the cold.
Ms Mitchell commented: 'We know that for every one degree drop in average temperature, there are around 8,000 extra deaths so it's really important older people make sure to keep warm and protect themselves from the cold. Small changes can make all the difference.
'For instance, always protect your fingers, mouth and head from the cold - these are the parts of your body which are more sensitive to temperature changes, and make sure you sleep with your windows closed at night because cold temperatures raise blood pressure making people more prone to heart attacks and strokes.
'At times like this, it's also crucial that people check on their older neighbours and relatives to make sure that they are keeping warm and healthy.'
Copyright Press Association 2013