Weather and public health chiefs have issued a warning about the “severe cold weather and icy conditions” that are expected to last until at least Monday (12 December).
The Met Office said: “This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.
“Please refer to the national Cold Weather Plan and your (local NHS) trust’s emergency plan for appropriate preventive action.
“Rather cold conditions are expected to turn colder across much of the UK later Wednesday and through Thursday as air from the Arctic spreads south across the country.
“Very cold nights are expected, with widespread frosts and potentially severe frosts.
“Daytime temperatures persisting near or just above freezing, with overnight temperatures continuing to trend downwards.
“Wintry showers are also likely to affect some coasts, perhaps pushing into some inland areas at times, bringing a risk of icy patches.
“Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.
“Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C (64F to 65F), particularly if you are not mobile, have a long-term illness or are 65 or over.
“Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls.”
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