Temperatures across Britain are expected to drop below freezing this weekend, prompting health officials to warn that the cold can be deadly.
Weather alerts have been issued for much of the country as forecasters expect severe cold to set in on Saturday.
Public Health England (PHE) has issued level two alerts for all regions – apart from the south-west, south-east and London – and urged people to look out for their family, friends and neighbours.
“A lot of places will see temperatures hovering around freezing or just below but if we have got clear skies we may get to minus four or below,” Met Office spokeswoman Nicky Maxey said.
“The temperatures were cold and then they got a little bit milder, and now they are getting colder but they are not getting as cold as they have been. So, although we are going to see temperatures dip a little bit over the weekend, we are certainly not going to see them go down as cold as they have been.”
An easterly airflow will bring clearer and cooler conditions leading to widespread frost, the Met Office said. But the wintry weather can prove fatal, Dr Thomas Waite, consultant in extreme events at PHE, warned. He said: “Every winter thousands of people die because of their exposure to cold weather, and we also know that every winter doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and other parts of the NHS are kept busy as people fall ill – that’s why it’s really important that we all do everything we can to ensure everyone stays well this winter.
“Think about how the bad weather may affect your friends, family and neighbours, particularly if they are older or very young or have pre-existing health conditions. These groups can be particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of cold so think now what you could do to help.
“We advise keeping homes heated to at least 18C, stocking up on food and medicine before cold weather sets in and wearing lots of thin layers instead of fewer thick ones. Much of this is common sense, but there are people at very real risk when temperatures drop. Now is the time to think about what we can all do for ourselves and others.”