A severe weather forecast for the South East could cause "major health risks" this weekend and has led to a level two cold weather alert being issued for the region.

The whole UK is bracing for another cold snap over the coming days, with sub-zero temperatures hitting the country, specifically London and the South East.

Temperatures are expected to drop to as low as -1C in the capital and South East England this weekend, and Kent County Council has issued a warning to residents to wrap up warm and support vulnerable friends, family and neighbours.

There is a 70% chance of severe cold weather in the south east between 6pm Sunday, January 19, and 6pm on Tuesday, January 21, and whilst snow will mostly be confined to the Scottish hills, people can expect strong blustery winds blown in from the northwest.

The Met Office today announced a level two cold weather alert, which triggers actions in the NHS, public health, social care and other community organisations in order to support vulnerable people with health, housing or economical circumstances increasing their risk of harm.

Nationally, there are thousands of excess winter deaths per year because of a drop in temperature. The ideal indoor temperature is 18-21°C (65-75°F). If trying to save fuel, it is advisable to heat the living room during the day, the bathroom when needed and the bedroom, just before going to bed.

Kent County Council also offer these simple measures for keeping warm during the cold snap:

  • Regular cups of tea, or other hot drinks, and regular hot meals can help your body stay warm
  • Make sure warm clothes are within reach – keep jumpers and thick socks close by. Wear several thin layers, rather than one thick one.
  • Have your flu vaccine to protect yourself and others (this is free for anyone over 65, pregnant women, those with long term conditions, and children aged two to four – contact your GP to make an appointment.
  • Order repeat prescriptions in good time to make sure you have enough supply of any medicines you use.
  • Having a family member, friend or neighbour to help out with anything from putting the bin out to collecting prescriptions or doing shopping.
  • Have your heating and cooking appliances checked regularly and make sure the chimney has been swept recently

If you have to go outside or travel, wear layers of warm clothing and slip resistant shoes, and make sure you aren't caught out by ice or snow.

People are urged not to go to A&E or call 999 unless it’s an emergency. If you are in any doubt, NHS111 can help you get the right treatment.

Those hoping for snow will likely have to wait until the middle of February.