GP warns Derbyshire residents to prepare for cold winter

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AN ALFRETON GP is appealing to people to take extra precautions this winter amid fears that this could be the coldest winter in a century.

Temperatures in the coming days are expected to remain close to freezing, with a strong possibility of plunging overnight temperatures of below zero.

And, according to Dr Tim Parkin of Limes Medical Centre and NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), this could put lives at risk – particularly the elderly and those more susceptible to illness because of a weakened immune system or underlying health problem.

Dr Parkin said: “The Met Office is predicting a particularly bad cold spell over the coming weeks, with some long-range forecasters warning that temperatures could drop to as low as minus 20C in some parts of the country through December and January.

“So if you are elderly, vulnerable or do suffer from a long-term health problem, keep yourself warm in and outdoors. If you are pregnant, over 65 or suffer from a long term illness, the flu jab offers the best protection against the virus, which can be potentially fatal in ‘at risk’ groups.

“If you take regular medications, make sure you have sufficient supplies and remedies to treat yourself when you are becoming unwell. It’s also prudent to ensure that you have access to help and support when you may need it, and try to heat your main living room to around 18C to 21C during the day and the rest of the house to at least 16C.”

Around 25,000 more people in England and Wales died two winters ago because of the cold, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure as the body tries to keep itself warm, and the chances of a blood clot as the blood becomes more sticky – leading to heart attacks and stroke.

The damp and dark conditions also increase the risk of falls and the cold leading to hypothermia.

Hypothermia is defined as the unintentional lowering of the core body temperature below 95F or 35C. It can be triggered by exposure to the cold for a long time, including being outdoors or in a poorly heated room or being in cold water. Elderly people are particularly prone to developing the condition as it is more difficult for them to restore their temperature to normal once their body temperature has dropped – making it even more important to keep warm.

The body needs a regular source of energy from food and drink in order to work properly, to keep warm, and to repair our bodies and for general health and wellbeing.

Your food choices can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

These are just a few examples now linked to poor diet, as well as defend against depression, low fat, low salt and low sugar, fruit and vegetable, are good choices.

Non-emergency medical advice can be accessed via Derbyshire’s ‘111’ health line.