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Cold Weather Plan for England 2013 Launched

Public Health England have launched The Cold Weather Plan for England  which is a framework intended to protect the population from harm to health from cold weather. It aims to prevent the major avoidable effects on health during periods of cold weather in England by alerting people to the negative health effects of cold weather, and enabling them to prepare and respond appropriately.

It recommends a series of steps to reduce the risks to health from cold weather for:

 the NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies

 professionals working with people at risk

 individuals, local communities and voluntary groups

The Cold Weather Plan has been published annually since 2011. This year’s plan builds on the experience of developing and improving the ability of the health and social care sector and its partners to deal with significant periods of cold weather.

Most of the actions identified in the Cold Weather Plan 2012 have been carried forward into the 2013 edition. Key changes which have been made include:

 updating responsibilities and actions for healthcare organisations, local authorities and professionals in light of the changes made to health and social care as of 1 April 2013

 emphasising action at level 0 (year round planning) and level 1 (winter preparedness and action) to reflect the preliminary findings from the Department of Health commissioned evaluation of the Cold Weather Plan by the Policy Innovation Research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (PIRU, LSHTM) that indicate that the greatest total health burden occurs at relatively moderate cold temperatures

 emphasising the importance of a long-term strategic approach by health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) and commissioners to reducing winter morbidity and mortality in the companion document

 making a clearer distinction between the health effects and interventions for cold temperatures, and those for snow and ice

The plan continues to operate a system of cold weather alerts, developed in collaboration with the Met Office. This operates in England from 1 November to 31 March each year. During this period, the Met Office will issue alerts which may forecast periods of severe cold weather on the basis of either of two measures: low temperatures of 2°C or less; and/or heavy snow and ice.

The cold weather alert service comprises five levels (Levels 0-4), from long-term planning for cold weather, through winter and severe cold weather action, to a major national emergency. Each alert level aims to trigger a series of appropriate actions which are detailed in the plan.

Cold Weather Alerts

To support the Plan, the Met Office will issue Cold Weather Alerts from 1 November 2013 to 31 March 2014. There are five levels:

 Level 0 (long term planning, all year)

 Level 1 (winter preparedness and action, 1 Nov to 31 March)

 Level 2 (severe winter weather is forecast) – mean temperature of 2°C and/or widespread ice and heavy snow are predicted within 48 hours, with 60% confidence



 Level 3 (response to severe winter weather) mean temperature of 2°C and/or widespread ice and heavy snow is now occurring



 Level 4 (major incident – declared by central government)

Detailed tables are available in the main body of the plan. Followed by key public health messages to protect health in cold weather.

The plan is a good practice guide and the actions denoted within it are illustrative. It is a collaborative plan supported by PHE, NHS England, the Local Government Association, the Met Office and the Department of Health to protect and promote the health of the population of England.

A series of leaflets have also been produced for health autorities, voluntary sector, front line staff and individuals



For other advice and information about being more prepared for severe weather visit

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