Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has called on people to check on elderly neighbours and relatives, following news that last winter saw excess deaths at their highest rate for 15 years.
The rallying call follows the release of figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing there were 44,000 winter-related deaths between December 2014 and March 2015.
While launching its safe4winter campaign, GMFRS is highlighting the need to check on elderly people alongside its new Safe and Well visits, which will see firefighters and Community Safety Advisors addressing issues related to winter health including falls, social isolation and cold homes.
The ONS defines excess winter deaths as the number of people whose fatalities were registered between December and March, compared with the numbers for the previous three months and the following three months.
GMFRS is hoping to reduce the risk of deaths with advice and interventions, in conjunction with a Public Health England initiative that will focus Safe and Well visits on winter issues.
Councillor David Acton, chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “These figures show that winter provides heightened risks to the most vulnerable members of our communities.
“The public can do their bit to help by checking on vulnerable neighbours to make sure they are OK. A simple task can make a big difference. If anyone has concerns, they can contact us at 0800 555 815 to arrange a Safe and Well visit.
“The people most at risk this winter are also those who are most likely to become victims of fires. Therefore we can use our unique access to people in order to offer advice, to help them with cold homes, falls, social isolation and flu, or refer them to partner organisations who can provide specialist care.
“We are concentrating on these issues as part of our initiative with Public Health England, because they recognise how well we have done with prevention of fires and we are aiming to replicate that with winter-related issues.”
A dedicated website safe4winter.com has been set up hosting advice, resources and letting people know how to book Safe and Well visits.