Very cold weather

Follow these tips to keep you, your family and those around you warm and well in extremely cold weather. 

Is ice and snow on the way?

Check the Met Office's severe weather warnings

To keep warm and well during spells of cold weather:

  • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter. 
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer). 
  • Keep as active in your home as possible.
  • Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days.
  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night.
  • If you're under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you're comfortable.

Protect your health in the cold

Public Health England's cold weather plan (PDF, 1.94Mb) has tips on how to protect your health during cold weather.

Make sure you are receiving any benefits you are entitled to, such as the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.

The Met Office has advice on getting ready for winter and some suggestions for practical things you can do to prepare for winter weather, including cold, ice and snow, high winds and flooding. The advice also tells you ways you can save money.

Travel carefully in icy weather

Icy pavements and roads can be extremely slippery. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. It adds you should wait until the roads have been gritted if you're travelling by car.

Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.

How to find weather warnings

The Met Office provides the weather forecasts for broadcasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up-to-date with the weather. Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website, through the Met Office Twitter feed, or you can ring the Weather Desk on 0870 900 0100.

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable to cold weather. Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or people with serious illnesses, so check in on them if you can. Read about how to spot and treat hypothermia.

People with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems may have worse symptoms during a cold spell and for several days after temperatures return to normal.

You can find more information and advice on staying healthy in periods of cold weather in Winter health.

Page last reviewed: 15/10/2014

Next review due: 15/10/2016

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