Look out for vulnerable as temperatures drop, councils urge

People are being urged by councils to check in on vulnerable friends, neighbours and relatives to ensure they are safe with parts of the country set to experience low temperatures.

Frost on glass against a dark blue background

Arctic air is forecast to bring temperatures in parts of the country to below zero in the coming days with the cold weather presenting a health risk to vulnerable people. Cold-related deaths represent the biggest weather-related source of mortality in England, and on average, there are approximately 35,000 excess winter deaths each year in England and Wales.

As always, council teams will spend the winter months checking in on older vulnerable residents to make sure they are well and coping, delivering hot meals, carrying out emergency household repairs and providing heating.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, is encouraging communities to help support council teams in these efforts by checking in on elderly and vulnerable residents who may need a helping hand as temperatures drop.

Councils are prepared for the worst of winter’s freezing temperatures with salt stockpiled and hi-tech gritters and street cleaning teams ready to keep roads safe. 

With freezing temperatures forecast, highway teams are monitoring weather forecasts with highly-trained staff on standby around the clock and some already deployed to grit thousands of miles of roads whenever temperatures plummet.

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the LGA, said:

"Councils will be working to keep residents safe, roads open and services operating as the cold weather approaches, but encourage all residents to look out for each other. By checking to see if your neighbour needs some shopping or your elderly relative is warm at home, you can literally save lives.

“Councils are constantly monitoring the weather, with up-to-the-minute reports to stay one step ahead. Depots are filled with salt and gritters already being deployed to make sure our local roads are clear and open to our residents where possible.

“Check your council’s website and social media channels for information on incoming cold weather and assistance during the colder months.” 

Case studies

Oxfordshire County Council will have a full complement of more than 50 drivers, including back-up crews, to keep its gritters moving when cold weather hits. An additional 15 drivers were trained last year and at least four more drivers have joined the team this winter.

Dorset Council gritting crews have been on standby since the start of November, armed with 12,700 tonnes of rock salt ready to be distributed across 22 main gritting routes when required.

Suffolk County Council gritting teams are “absolutely ready” for the new winter season and whatever the cold months throw their way. Between the council’s highways team and roadworks contractor, 71 gritters are ready alongside external HGV drivers from the authority’s supply chain partners.


Weather forecast – Met Office

Health matters: cold weather and COVID-19 – gov.uk