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AGE UK's response to cold-health alerts and yellow/amber weather warnings from UKHSA and MET Office

Published on 12 January 2024 05:45 PM

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “The Big Freeze is happening at the worst possible time for older people and we urge everyone to take care so they don't become a victim of the intense cold. Floods, the cost of living crisis and an NHS buckling under the pressure of high demand and the aftermath of prolonged strike action make for a challenging combination, and it is vital that older people stay fit, warm and well. We all have a part to play in this by looking out for the older people around us, especially if they are living with serious health conditions or are short of local support. 

"With much of the UK waking up to snow reports this morning we are urging older people to do all they can to keep warm and take care. With high energy bills and food prices still rising it is understandable that some may think they have to cut back on food and turn their heating off, but prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can have a serious impact on their health, especially if they are already trying to manage existing illnesses.  As we get older our bodies find it harder to adjust to big changes in temperature, particularly if we are also coping with ill health or mobility issues. The cold raises blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and breathing in cold air can also increase the risk, and impact, of serious illnesses like flu and pneumonia.

“Having plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day can help keep the health risks of the cold at bay, as can taking simple precautions such as wrapping up warm when going outside and sleeping with the windows closed at night. 

“Now is also the time for us all to keep a friendly eye on older relatives, friends and neighbours. Offering to bring in some shopping or pick up medicines from the pharmacy can be a real help. If you are concerned about an older friend or relative, or you are an older person who is worried about paying for food or energy bills, please get in touch with Age UK because help may well be available. Please call us on 0800 169 65 65, visit the Cost of Living hub on Age UK’s website, or follow this link:“.


Top Tips

1. Ask older people to heat their home to a steady temperature throughout the day and night, we recommend at least 18°C (64°F), and wear suitable clothing. It is also best to keep bedroom windows shut on a winter’s night.

2. Keep a friendly eye on older relatives, friends and neighbours. Offering to bring in some shopping or picking up medicines from the pharmacy can be a real help.

  1. If bad weather is forecast, make sure you have everything you need. Check you've got enough medication and food in case it's harder to leave the house. A bottle of water could be handy if the water supply is interrupted.
  1. Have torches handy around the home in case of a power cut. And some spare batteries too!
  1. Keep emergency numbers nearby. Call 105 in the event of a power cut – you can report a power cut and get information and advice if there is one in your area. You can also register with your supplier so they'll call you in the event of a power cut.
  1. Take extra care if the ground is slippery. Wear shoes with good grip and consider keeping salt and sand mixture handy to grit paths. You could ask your neighbours for help to clear paths or driveways clear in bad weather – most people are more than happy to help.
  1. Plan ahead when driving. Try to avoid going out in the car in bad weather if possible, and make sure you follow advice on driving conditions near you. If you do need to go out, pack up the following kit in case you get stuck: blankets, a bottle of water or flask of hot drink, some snacks, a shovel, a de-icer or scraper, a mobile phone and charger.


Winter can be challenging, but as we get older, it can feel even harder. Cold temperatures can affect older people’s health, dark days make it harder to get out and soaring prices mean daily life is fast becoming unaffordable.

That’s why Age UK needs help to spread the warmth – donating to Age UK will help keep essential services, such as the Charity’s free and confidential Advice Line and Telephone Friendship Service, running. You can also donate to your local Age UK to support community services and support.  

To donate and to find out more about how you can get involved, visit: Anyone who needs support can call 0800 169 6565.



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Last updated: Mar 14 2024

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