With the Met Office forecasting severe cold weather, ice and snow over the next two weeks, the Department of Health (DH) is warning the conditions could be "dangerous" to older people.
The level two alert issued for this weekend and early next week says temperatures may fall as low as minus nine degrees C.
According to the DH, this means there is a 70 per cent chance of heavy snowfall in the north and east of the country and a 60 per cent chance for the south, west and the midlands. In these cases, the DH warns temperatures could be low enough to pose "significant health risks".
It said: "Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old or those with chronic disease."
Those responsible for the care of vulnerable people are urged to refer to the Cold Weather Plan that is available on the DH website.
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