Don't go out without telling people, Met Office warns with first cold weather alert of winter

A man walks through snow yesterday in Nenthead, Cumbria - Jordan Crosby
A man walks through snow yesterday in Nenthead, Cumbria - Jordan Crosby

The Met Office has warned the public to tell someone where they are going and when they’ll be back as it put in place the first cold weather warning of the winter.

The forecasters have declared a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert in conjunction with the UK Health Security Agency, with temperatures set to reach -6C overnight in parts of the country.

The plunging mercury is being driven by northerly winds sweeping down on Britain from the Arctic and bringing with them frigid temperatures.

The cold weather alerts are intended to protect the public while also triggering social care and healthcare providers to take action to protect vulnerable people.

The official advice for a level three alert reads: "If you must go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes. Tell someone where you are going and when you will get back."

The advice from the Met Office and the HSA includes keeping home temperatures at at least 18C, to stay tuned to the weather forecast, and to “keep active, dress warmly, eat warm food and take warm drinks regularly.”

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The public are also advised to check on those they know are at risk, keep their phones charged and with them if they leave the house and to alert the emergency services if they are worried about their own or someone else’s health.

The alert is in place from 6pm on Wednesday until Monday at 9am for the entirety of England. The alert system does not operate elsewhere in the UK.

A separate amber warning for snow is in place for the northern half of Scotland.

The plummeting temperatures follow a relatively mild autumn, with November the third mildest on record. The UK is on target for its warmest recorded year and in the summer had its first ever extreme heat warning from the UKHSA and the Met Office when temperatures broke 40C across much of the country.

Low single digits for daytime temperatures

A high-pressure system means that days will likely be clear and crisp but that overnight temperatures will drop precipitously. Daytime temperatures will be in the low single digits.

The icy temperatures come as the UK faces a first winter since energy prices were sent soaring by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While energy prices have been capped by the Government, the average household bill is expected to be twice what it was last year, at £2,500.

Nevertheless, Sophie Barrett, a spokesperson for Age UK, insisted people should put their heating on to stay warm.

'Some sacrificing food for heating'

"We are hearing lots of very sad stories, ranging from different extremes – some are sacrificing food for heating, others are saying they will be staying in bed all day to avoid getting cold," she told the BBC.

"And some people told us they will shut appliances such as fridges off, which is dangerous from a food safety perspective, or use candles to avoid turning on the lights, which is a clear fire hazard."

She added that people should look to see what benefits they might be entitled to to help them with their energy bills.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, consultant in public health medicine at the UKHSA, said older people and those with heart or lung conditions are particularly at risk from the cold weather, adding: "If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you.

"In rooms you mostly use such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18°C if you can. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night. Wearing several layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer."

While the cold snap will persist into next week, meteorologists currently expect more unsettled weather to move in meaning a milder, although not warm Christmas.