People are advised to heat the main rooms at the start of the cold snap

People are advised to heat living rooms during the day and bedrooms before going to sleep as a cold spell is hitting the UK.

Health officials have issued advice for people who cannot heat all rooms or who are struggling to pay heating costs.

Overnight lows of -10°C (14°F) are forecast for northern Scotland amid snow and ice warnings there, Wales, Northern Ireland and the east coast .

The cold weather alert for England starts at 18:00 GMT.

It will continue until 09:00 on Monday December 12, but could be extended further if the forecast calls for ever colder temperatures.

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice are in place from 00:00 a.m. Wednesday until 12:00 p.m. Thursday for northern Scotland and much of the east coast of Britain.

A yellow weather warning applies to Wales and most of Northern Ireland from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

Although sub-zero temperatures are not unexpected in parts of northern Scotland in winter, readings of -6C are forecast for parts of rural England from Thursday.

Large parts of Scotland are expected to experience a prolonged ‘Arctic Blast’ with freezing temperatures, snow and ice expected on Wednesday and Thursday.

BBC Weather’s Chris Fawkes said: “Frequent showers will turn to snow overnight and on Wednesday across northern Scotland will bring the first snowfall of winter.

“Over the next few days the cold weather will move south with daytime temperatures about 5C below the December average – and likely not above freezing in places.

“Overnight frosts will be widespread and heavy, generally -2°C to -6°C, but with much lower temperatures over snow cover in Scotland. Showers will increasingly turn to sleet and snow in parts of Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

“This abrupt shift in winter cold will be more of a shock to the system, given that this autumn has provisionally been the third warmest on record in the UK, where frosts have been very rare.”

Growing Cost Concerns

The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has said that, in addition to the most used pieces at at least 18C, “several thinner layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thicker layer”.

“Having plenty of hot food and drinks is also effective for keeping warm,” the agency added.

Rising energy costs have raised concerns that some people may be resistant to using their heating, even during the unusually cold temperatures expected this week.

Under the current energy price guarantee, a household using a typical amount of gas and electricity can expect to pay £2,500 a year. That comes to £3,000 a year for typical use from April.

UKHSA’s Dr Agostinho Sousa said: “Cold weather can have serious health consequences, and the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions may be particularly at risk.

“If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should heat your home to a comfortable temperature for you.”

Disability charity Scope said a survey of 1,000 disabled households suggested 43 per cent had reduced their electricity and gas use, with some saying they turned off the heating and used duvets to get themselves warm up.

Additional support to help cover energy costs is available for the most vulnerable, along with a one-off £400 rebate for all households.

The National Energy Action charity, which fights energy poverty, called on the government to “step in with more help for those most at risk this winter”.

What does an unheated room do to your body?

Living in such low temperatures puts considerable strain on the body, which has to work to warm up faster.

This can lead to increased blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, which in turn can increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.

At low temperatures, those who already have poor heart health and the elderly become even more susceptible to serious health issues.

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol has been activated in London for the first time this winter, meaning homeless people will have access to shelter.

Local authorities are also asking people to check on vulnerable family, friends and neighbors to see if they need additional help.

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “During these cold spells it is the elderly or those with respiratory illness who are at greater risk of poor health. and need more support.

“As some people may choose to limit their heating use due to the impact of rising energy bills, it is all the more important that people check in on those who might need more help. It could help save lives.”

A yellow ice weather warning is in place for most of the east coast of England from 6:00 p.m. GMT Wednesday to 12:00 p.m. GMT Thursday as temperatures are expected to drop to -3C (26.6F).

Councils in England and Wales stockpiled 1.4million tonnes of salt for climbing the roads this winter, but many have told the LGA they are struggling to recruit and retain gravel drivers.

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