Communities urged to look out for vulnerable as icy blast hits Suffolk and north Essex
Archant Norfolk 2017
With temperatures due to plunge and three days of snow warnings, calls are being made for neighbours to look out for the more vulnerable people in their communities.
Bitterly cold winds are expected as the region braces itself for snowfall and sub-zero conditions with the arrival of the so-called ‘Beast from the East’.
The icy blast, sweeping in from Siberia, could bring with it temperatures not seen in Suffolk and north Essex for five years, forecasters believe.
Such a severe cold weather snap could be dangerous for some, bosses at West Suffolk Hospital said, with the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, falls or hypothermia increased when the mercury plummets to below 8C.
Helen Beck, chief operating officer, said: “Given the predicted cold weather snap we advise that people in our community stock up on medicines, check on any vulnerable or elderly neighbours and take care when outside.
“It is important to keep warm in cold weather as it can be bad for your health.
“The cold weather is also a common trigger for breathing difficulties.
“If you have a heart or respiratory problem, it’s best to stay indoors during very cold weather if you can.”
Chiefs at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals are urging patients to think GP and think pharmacy to allow A&E departments to deal with emergencies only as demand peaks.
Hospital spokeswoman Jan Ingle said: “We do have a plan and know we can cope with an influx of people needing complex and emergency care.
“What we would say is to think: ‘Is the hospital the most appropriate place for me to be?’
“We want people to think GP, think pharmacy and make use of our healthcare partners unless it is a matter of emergency.”
Emergency winter beds are being provided for rough sleepers by Ipswich council, which are being provided in partnership with Genesis Housing Association at Cavendish Lodge.
Meanwhile, while Age UK Suffolk bosses are urging people to spread a little warmth.
This, they suggest, could be achieved by offering to help a neighbour with essential shopping as the cold weather hits.
Operations manager Helen Taylor said: “We would urge all readers to be good neighbours during severe weather.
“Keep in regular touch with older friends and neighbours and raise your concerns if something doesn’t seem right.”