With ice and freezing temperatures set to continue for much of this week, doctors in Solihull are offering advice to people aged 65 and over on how to keep warm and well.
During 2012/13, an estimated 31,100 extra deaths were recorded in England and Wales over the winter period.
Older people who may be frail, or who have existing health conditions, are particularly at risk from cold weather.
Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body member and local GP, Dr Sue Harrower, said: "Staying warm in their home is one of the most important things people who are at risk can do to help protect their health during cold weather.
"Very serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes can result from sitting for long periods of time in a cold home, as this can put pressure on the heart and blood circulation. People with a bad chest can also suffer from being too cold, as it can cause serious breathing difficulties."
Dr Harrower asked friends, relatives and neighbours to keep an eye on those who could be at risk, saying many people were not aware that by allowing themselves to get cold they could be putting themselves in danger.
"As long as people are wearing suitable clothing – ideally several thin layers – they can reduce the risk to their health from cold in winter by heating their home to at least 18C," said Dr Harrower. "Costs can be kept down by setting temperatures on a timer so that the rooms people spend most time in are heated when they need to be.
"Anyone who has reduced mobility, is over 65, or has a health condition such as heart or lung disease, should keep their room temperature slightly higher than 18C as this could be good for their health."
Top advice for keeping snug, warm and well this winter:
- keep warm and healthy by keeping rooms heated to at least 18C
- it's not too late to get the flu jab. If you're over 65 or have a serious long-term health condition, get it now – it's free because you need it
- look out for friends, relatives and neighbours who may be vulnerable to the cold
- stay tuned to the weather forecast and plan ahead with supplies
- if you meet the criteria, register for priority service with your energy and water suppliers
- have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day and keep active to help you stay warm
- get financial support to make your home more energy efficient, to improve your heating or to help with bills
- have your heating and cooking appliances checked regularly
- wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer
- when you need to go outside wear strong, flat shoes or boots with slip-resistant, good-grip soles.