A new 'weather alert' system aimed at avoiding preventable winter deaths has been launched by the Met Office.
The Cold Weather Plan for England highlights 24,000 winter deaths in England in one year, many of them preventable - 1,000 of these in the Thames Valley area.
The new plan will alert people to the need to plan ahead for possible cold winter weather and will have five 'alert levels' covering everything from severe weather warnings (level two for expected temperatures of two degrees centigrade or lower) to level three (when those temperatures arrive) and level four for a major bad weather incident.
Dr Diana Grice, Thames Valley's heath education centre director said: "Keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic condition such as heart disease and asthma.
"The Cold Weather Plan sets out a series of actions that health and social care organisations, voluntary groups and individuals can take.
"The elderly and those with long term illnesses are particularly at risk during the winter months so it’s crucial that people stay warm and that we all find time to check in on those who may be vulnerable."
A PHE Winter Health Watch website is being launched.
Follow #winterready (for message alert levels 0 and 1) and #weatheraware (alert levels 2 to 4) on Twitter for winter health advice.
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