Local health chiefs have issued important guidance following today’s cold weather alert.

The Met Office, in conjunction with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has issued an amber weather alert, which will be in place until Tuesday 5 December, as severe winter weather is forecast.

An amber alert means extreme cold conditions are expected, with the elderly, people with underlying health conditions, babies and very young children at risk from the weather. In the Black Country, forecasters have predicted severe cold weather and icy conditions with temperatures continuing to reach below zero this week.

People are encouraged to take extra precautions to keep safe while the alerts are in place, such as checking on vulnerable friends and neighbours, keeping food and medications in stock and ensuring homes are adequately heated.

Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “Taking extra care during cold weather is really important, particularly for people who are more vulnerable to suffering ill health due to the cold, such as babies and very young children, older people, pregnant women and people with pre existing medical conditions.

“It is recommended that we should heat our homes to at least 18 degrees Celsius in winter as this minimises risks to our health. If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to bed.

“Try to avoid going out in cold icy weather but if you do need to go outside wear shoes with slip resistant grip and wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer to trap in heat. It is also important that you have frequent hot food and drinks as these can help to keep you warm.

“Make sure you also take the current weather alert into account when planning any activity over the following few days and try to avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions, especially if you’re at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls.

“We are also asking everyone to remember the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk during this period of cold weather. Make sure they’re well, warm and have sufficient stocks of food and medicines, in case they cannot go out for a few days.”

NHS advice on staying well in cold weather

Advice on staying warm and well in winter

Advice and support is also available from Supporting Sandwell and Healthy Sandwell.

Worried about a rough sleeper?

If you know someone who is sleeping rough, please let us know so that we can help them. It’s really chilly outside and temperatures are looking to remain low over the next few days, so please get in touch with us and share as much detail as you can. Help and support is available.

If you see someone sleeping rough, let us know by filling in our short online reporting form. Or you can contact the Rough Sleepers Team by emailing rough_sleepers@sandwell.gov.uk or by calling 0121 368 1166 (Option 2), out of hours 0121 569 6883.