Cold Weather: How do cold health alerts work?

Cold Weather: How do cold health alerts work?

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The UK’s Health Security Agency has issued a yellow health alert across England, meaning it expects the NHS to see an increase in demand as a result of the weather.

The Weather Alert Service warns the public when high or low temperatures could harm their health.

How does the health weather alert system work?

Cold Health Alerts are typically issued between November 1 and March 30 and Heat and Health Alerts are typically issued between June 1 and September 30.

The system issues warnings to members of the public and sends guidance directly to NHS England, the government and other healthcare professionals during periods of bad weather.

Alerts are categorized according to their severity and include the following:

  • The most prominent weather conditions expected during the coming days
  • Details on how weather conditions affect each area
  • Links to further information, advice and guidance.

The system is designed to help reduce illness and deaths by improving communication between the public and relevant agencies during periods of severe weather.

What does each level mean?

The alert level is based on Met Office forecasts and data.

There are four levels ranging from green (least risk) to red (most risk):

Green is the normal level, where advice is given on how people can prepare to respond if temperatures rise or fall.

Yellow alerts are issued during periods of hot or cold weather that are likely to only affect people who are particularly vulnerable, for example, the elderly or those with existing health conditions.

Amber alerts are issued for situations that may put the entire population at risk. The NHS may see an increase in demand for GPs and ambulances, for example.

Travel disruption is also likely.

The red alert is the most serious.

It is issued in situations where hot or cold weather poses a significant risk to life, even for a healthy population, and can lead to the failure of critical national infrastructure, such as power outages or the closure of roads and railway lines.

What areas are covered by the latest cold health alert?

  • North West
  • Northeast of the country
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • the East
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • Southeast of the country
  • Southwest
  • London

The UKHSA said cold weather “can quickly have a serious impact on the health of over-65s and those with pre-existing health conditions”.

It “increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections,” warned Dr Agostino Souza, head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UKHSA.

The yellow alert will remain in effect until noon on Friday, January 19.

Find out the weather forecast for your area, with hourly details and a 14-day outlook, by downloading the app BBC Weather app: Apple – Android – Amazon

The BBC Weather app is only available to download in the UK.

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