Saturday, February 23rd 2013, 6:25 AM EST
THE coldest weekend of the year brought a warning last night that the prolonged freeze is claiming thousands of lives.
As biting winds brought temperatures down as low as -15C (5F) the Met Office upgraded its Level Two health alert to the more serious Level Three.
Charities warned that the toll of weather-related deaths among the elderly is soaring as the bitter cold, combined with record energy prices, leaves many struggling to survive. The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners said deaths among its members had doubled since the New Year.
It warned that as many as 26,000 elderly people could die this winter, the worst death toll since 2008/09.
Chief executive Malcolm Booth said: “Horrendously, deaths among our members are more than double the average so far this year.
“Many health conditions that affect elderly people are worsened by cold weather and there is a definite risk of the highest national winter mortality figures since 2008-09.
“We keep hearing stories about members imprisoned in one room because that is all they can afford to heat and some have so little cash they have to choose between eating and heating. This is totally wrong.”
The Local Government Association last night urged people to look out for elderly neighbours and relatives.
Peter Box, chairman of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “We would encourage anyone with elderly or vulnerable neighbours to check on them over the weekend to make sure they’re OK and not suffering in silence.
“Just a knock on the door of someone who’s perhaps too proud or unable to ask for help can make all the difference.
“They may just need an extra blanket getting down from the loft or perhaps they didn’t get out to collect their medicine this week. It takes no time to check but could potentially save lives.”
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Source Link: express.co.uk