About Winterwatch

Winterwatch will bring you regular updates from the Department of Health about how the NHS is coping with the increased demands on its services in the cold winter months and weekly information on levels of flu-like illness and the uptake of flu vaccination.

Cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases. People also slip and fall in the snow or ice causing serious injuries.

Approximately 27,000 more people die each year in England over the winter months when compared with other times of the year. This is often referred to as ‘excess winter deaths’ or ‘excess winter mortality’.

Very severe weather can substantially add to this death toll. There were 24,170 ‘excess’ deaths in England during the winter of 2009/10, compared with 23,700 in 2010/11. You can view the data on the Office for National Statistics website.

The ‘Get Ready for Winter’ campaign encourages people to think about what preparations they can make for winter.

General information on keeping safe and well when the weather is cold is given on NHS Choices and it is useful to remember a few basic measures can help make a big difference to the safety and wellbeing of those at risk.

At this time of year it’s a good idea to check on older or vulnerable people to make sure:

  • they are safe and well
  • they are warm enough, especially at night
  • they have stocked up on food and medicines

When roads are icy, there is an increased risk of vehicles skidding, so they might take longer to stop than normal. In slippery conditions, everyone, especially older people, should take extra care to avoid slips and falls.

Older people and anyone with a health condition should try to stay inside if at all possible and only make journeys if they are essential.

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