Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Cold weather risks

Another "Arctic blast" is forecast to reach the UK from tomorrow. We didn't get much snow here last time, and probably won't this time either. But all this cold weather has a serious impact on human health, and not just from slipping on ice. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in winter 2009/10, there were an estimated 25,400 excess winter deaths in England and Wales, which is a 16.6% increase compared to mortality rates during the rest of the year. Older people are particularly at risk - the increase among the over 85s was 23.4% - but young people are not exempt. The Mirror ran an article yesterday on "A day in the life of an NHS hospital": "SAFARI Ward [in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Woolwich, SE London] is for children aged from one day through to 16 years old. Today 70% of the residents are babies suffering breathing problems because of the cold weather." The excess is mostly linked to circulatory and respiratory diseases, and is particularly high during winters when seasonal influenza reaches epidemic levels. So try and keep warm, between 18 and 21 °C, avoid shivering, wrap up warmly outside and wear a hat, and be sensible!

At the beginning of the Eucharist, I could hear what sounded like a broken record of a Tawny owl. Not really their time of day, so it might have been someone wheezing close by or the carpenter drilling further off, but I could hear it again during Vespers. Anthony says he's heard a couple of Barn owls chatting down the field in the early morning, and there are one or two living in one of the willows along the stream.

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