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Cold snap is snow joke for older people living alone

Advice from GPs on staying well this winter as the temperature drops.

Following a severe cold weather warning for ice, wind and snow this weekend from the Met Office, GPs at Bradford City, Bradford District and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are urging people to take extra care.

Winter sees a significant number of injuries and illnesses due to the cold weather, snow and ice, with older people being especially vulnerable. GPs are recommending a number of steps you should take to ensure you stay well this winter during this weekend’s cold snap: 

  • only go out in severe weather if you journey is absolutely necessary
  • if you are going outside, make sure you wrap up well (don’t forget your hat and scarf) and wear sturdy, flat, sensible shoes with good grip
  • for those in a wheelchair make sure you add an extra layer
  • take in lots of hot drinks and meals like stews and soups
  • keep your living room at 70°F (21°C) if you can
  • keep your bedroom at 65°F (18°C) if you can
  • keep your curtains open in the day and closed at night

If the weather means you can’t get out and about, speak to friends, family and neighbours to see if they can help you out. Similarly, if you know a vulnerable older person living alone, make sure to stop by for a cup of tea and see if there’s any shopping they need while the weather is bad.


Cold weather does not just affect older people, everyone is at risk of slips and falls when pavements and roads become icy and being prepared can prevent unnecessary trips to hospital when you’d rather be cosy indoors.

If you have a journey that cannot be avoided this weekend and you must travel by car, make sure to plan your route, allow extra time, ensure your vehicle is fully prepared, you have plenty of fuel, and pack an emergency kit. Advice on preparing your vehicle in winter and what to make sure you have in your boot is available on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (ROSPA) website.

Dr David Tatham, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at the CCGs said: “Each winter we see lots of people attending hospital with injuries and broken bones from slips, trips and falls which could have been prevented, with ice and snow making it even more difficult to stay safe outdoors.

“These are especially common in older people, whose bones are more fragile and who may not be able to recover so quickly.

“I’d urge everyone to avoid going out in the snow and ice wherever they can. If you journey is absolutely necessary, make sure you take extra care in what you wear; wrap up warm and ensure you have sturdy footwear with good grip.”

If you need urgent advice in the cold weather but it’s not a life-threatening emergency, call NHS 111 by dialing 111 from your mobile or landline telephone. Calls are free and lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To find your nearest GP, walk-in centre or pharmacy visit the NHS Choices website  or for further information on staying well this winter visit the NHS Stay Well website.  

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