Households are being urged by councils to show extra vigilance and ensure vulnerable friends, neighbours and relatives are safe as the big freeze bites. With forecasters predicting severe weather – temperatures are expected to plummet again this weekend – the Local Government Association, which speaks for councils in England and Wales, is urging people to be watchful.
Councils are working hard to make sure people are still getting the care they need and deserve. This has included putting extra social workers in hospitals and working seven days a week alongside health colleagues to work with patients and their families to discharge them more quickly into the community.
Latest government figures show deaths last winter were the highest since the turn of the century. There were almost 44,000 excess winter deaths.Illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia were the underlying causes of death in many cases.
Meanwhile, councils have stockpiled 1.2 million tonnes of salt to prepare for winter and gritters will be out treating thousands of miles of roads whenever overnight temperatures drop below zero in the coming days.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said:
“Last year almost 44,000 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales. Most are aged over 75, and their deaths could have been avoided with better preparation for cold weather.
“As the freeze sets in we need everyone in our communities to be on the look-out for signs that something might be wrong. Whether it be milk bottles left outside, newspapers stuck in the letterbox or curtains drawn all day, any sort of unusual activity could be a sign that something is wrong and that someone is in need of help.
“We are well prepared for the cold with 1.2 million tonnes of salt stockpiled and a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters ready to be deployed. As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, councils are out there working extra hard and pulling out all the stops to ensure vital help and support is provided to the needy and vulnerable.”