St George’s Hospital has released some important information to help people, particularly the elderly, to stay warm during the cold snap.

Pensioners, people with long term chronic health conditions like asthma and kidney disease, and people who cannot afford to heat their homes properly are the most at risk from cold weather related illnesses.

Keeping warm can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions like heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Alison Robertson, chief nurse, says there are simple steps that everybody can take to protect themselves and their friends and family from the cold weather: "Try to keep as active in your home as possible, and drawing your curtains when it gets dark and keep your doors closed will help to block out draughts.

"Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.

"Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days.

"Wearing several light layers of warm clothes is better than one chunky layer. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems."

It’s not just in the house that people need to take care though, with the snow comes ice, which means more people slip and hurt themselves than at other times of the year.

Dr Phil Moss, clinical director for A&E, has some advice for people when they are out and about to help them avoid an unwanted trip to the hospital.

He said: "Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery. Take extra care if you go out and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles.

"If you have to travel by car, wherever possible use roads that have been gritted.

"A&E gets extremely busy during the winter, and a lot of the people who come could get quicker and more appropriate treatment closer to home.

"People should remember that A&E is only for emergencies and life threatening conditions.

"If you are suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting you should stay away from hospital and call NHS Direct as you probably have norovirus, better known as winter vomiting disease.

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