The Public Health Agency has been accused of issuing “patronising” cold weather advice to older people from NI who “know more than a thing or two about keeping warm in winter”.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the health advisory organisation for NI suggested people wear extra layers of clothing during the day and bed socks and thermal underwear at night to combat the ‘beast from the east’.
News Letter columnist Sandra Chapman said she was fed up being told to ‘wrap up warm’.
She said: “We’ve had plenty of warning the beast from the east was coming. Haven’t the BBC weather staff being telling us for ages to ‘wrap up warm’ as if none of us knows much about winter weather?
“I cringe when I hear that phrase – wrap up warm. We’re not idiots after all.
“We live in a cold country – yes, even in summer – and have learned to keep an extra cardigan and scarf always to hand.”
In light of the cold spell of weather the Public Health Agency has advised people to wear multiple layers of clothing, keep your living room warm throughout the day if you are in the house, make sure your heating system is safe, eat well, particularly hot meals and drinks.
It also suggested wearing bed socks and thermal underwear at night, and not using an electric blanket and hot water bottle together to prevent electrocution.
Mrs Chapman continued: “The Public Health Agency has issued a long list of advice about how to keep warm, most of which is obviously geared towards the elderly.
“Yet I would suggest it’s older people who know more than a thing or two about keeping warm in winter. We have long memories.
“Do we need to be continually patronised in this way especially when the winter heating allowance for older people is issued at the start of winter when it’s often not that cold?”
She added: “Vicious cold snaps such as this week’s are more likely to arrive without much warning when the heating allowance has long since being used up.
“In 2012, just as I was preparing for Easter, a real beast from the east buried my garden in 12 feet of snow accompanied by ferocious winds which didn’t stop for 48 hours.
“Weather forecasters were caught on the hop and we didn’t have much warning.
“Now they overdo it [with weather warnings] and sometimes we’re listening to them and not trusting in our own judgment.
“Dealing with cold weather requires a common sense approach and a bit of prior planning.
“There’s no point in preaching to us when it’s already arrived.”