As weather forecasters predict that the cold snap will continue for the next few days, with the possibility of more snow in some areas, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Director of Public Health is urging people to stay warm during this extremely cold period.
Dr Linda de Caestecker thinks it is important that people, particularly the elderly, take a few simple precautions to ensure a healthy and happy start to 2010.
She said: “It’s very important during this really cold spell that everyone makes sure they take sensible precautions to stay warm.
“In particular I would encourage older people to dress warmly when they go out, and eat at least one hot meal a day with plenty of hot drinks.
“They should try to make sure that their homes are warm throughout. Heating one room may seem more economical, but going from a warm room into a cold one can heighten the risk of cardiovascular problems.
“Anyone going out to celebrate the New Year should also make sure they dress warmly and think about how much alcohol they are drinking.
Alcohol and plummeting temperatures are a dangerous combination, because contrary to popular belief going out into the fresh air does not sober you up. Neither does alcohol “heat you up” when you are cold. When you drink alcohol your face may get flushed and your skin get warm but your body is actually losing heat more quickly because the blood is rushing to the skin. The body’s normal protective response to cold is inhibited by alcohol, allowing your body temperature to decrease more quickly, bringing an increased danger of hypothermia. Your body temperature may decrease without you actually realising it.
Dr de Caestecker added: “Be aware of your own alcohol intake and look out for your friends as well and make sure everyone gets home safely.
“All these steps will hopefully result in a healthy and happy start to 2010.”
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.