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The first proper cold snap of the winter is predicted to grip most of the UK over the coming few days, with warnings to keep warm and take extra care of yourself and others.

At the end of last week, the Met Office warned of cold winter weather heading for Scotland and the north of England by the middle of this week, and on Monday it extended that warning to the whole of England. Its forecasters predict that cold conditions could last until Saturday (December 2nd), hopefully starting to fade by Sunday.

Laura Paterson, Chief Operational Meteorologist for the Met Office, said: “Colder air will gradually spread south during Monday and Tuesday, with overnight frosts becoming more widespread, along with a brisk northerly breeze. A period of more widespread cold temperatures is then expected from Wednesday (Nov 29th) onward, whilst showers down the east coast are also expected to be wintry at times with some snow and ice possible.”

In light of that forecast, Public Health England (PHE) has issued cold weather alerts and is renewing its advice to guard against the cold and look out for those who are particularly vulnerable, such as older people and those with long-term medical conditions.

Dr Thomas Waite, from PHE’s Extreme Events team, advised: “As the weather is going to get colder everywhere in the coming days, this is a really good time to check on those who may be at risk. People with diseases such as heart and lung conditions, older people, and young children can feel the ill-effects of cold weather more than the rest of us.

“To stay well this winter, we all need to play a part. Is there someone you know who could be at risk when the weather gets cold? Could you help them out by fetching shopping or prescriptions?

“When the colder weather arrives there are several things we can do to keep well: wear several thin layers instead of fewer thicker ones, keep parts of the home you’re using heated to at least 18°C and keep a careful eye on the weather forecasts.”

Dr Waite added: “We know that more deaths occur every winter in the UK than in the summer due to a wide range of causes including cold weather, influenza and other respiratory infections. The flu vaccination is the best protection we have against flu and it’s really important to have it if you are eligible. If we all keep a close eye out for each other over the coming months, hopefully we’ll all be able to stay well this winter.”

One problem with severe winter weather can be power cuts, which have serious implications for more vulnerable people. Power and utility companies have schemes which make ‘at risk’ groups a priority for reconnection in the event of a power cut. To find out if you or a loved one meet the criteria for these schemes, and to sign up for them, click here for more information.

You will also find a wide range of information about how best to keep healthy through the winter months by visiting the ‘Stay Well This Winter’ website provided by the NHS. Click here to find out more.

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