Plunging temperatures could put vulnerable people in Leicestershire at risk this week the Met Office has warned, prompting it to issue a cold weather alert. The level two alert, calling for "Alert and readiness" from individuals, social and healthcare providers, has been triggered because there is at least a 60 per cent probability of cold temperatures, icy conditions and or snow this week. The alert, which forms part of the national Cold Weather Plan, urges the public to check on vulnerable people and neighbours, and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks. The public should also help ensure at-risk people are managing to heat their homes adequately. Meanwhile social and healthcare services should be working to ensure swift action to reduce harm from the upcoming cold spell. People should factor the weather into their plans over the coming days, and those at risk of cold-related illnesses or falls should avoid exposing themselves to the bitter weather conditions. Keep up with the weather forecast and ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance, the Cold Weather Plan advises. The Plan was introduced in 2011 to increase awareness of the effects of severe cold weather on health. The Met Office warns there is a strong link between the onset of cold weather and deaths from both heart attacks and respiratory illnesses. Older people are particularly at risk as they do not feel the cold until their body temperature falls. Cold temperatures can also cause physiological effects such as thicker blood, increase in blood pressure and tightening of the airways, making people who already have conditions such as chronic lung disease and asthma more vulnerable. People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) also have a significantly increased risk of ill-health and hospitalisation during periods of cold weather. The cold weather alert is in place between 4pm today and 8am on Friday. A yellow weather warning of snow is in place alongside the cold alert between 6pm today and 3am tomorrow. The public is urged to be aware of widespread snow lying on roads and pavements, and people should brace themselves for journeys through affected areas taking longer than usual. The public should take extra care when walking, cycling or driving in affected areas. Accumulations of snow will be very variable, the Met Office says, with some places under the shower bands receiving 5-10 cm. A yellow warning of ice and an amber warning of snow is in place between 3am and midday tomorrow. The Met Office warns 10-15 cm of snow could potentially accumulate within six hours, particularly in areas above 100 metres. Leicester is set to see sleet and light snow overnight on Monday, with temperatures feeling as low as -5C. Wind gusts could reach speeds of up to 36mph. Sleet and snow should subside by around 9am tomorrow, but further sleet is forecast from around midday until 3pm. Light showers are forecast on Tuesday evening, but the skies are set to clear by around midnight. A yellow weather warning of snow is in place between 9am and midnight on Wednesday, and temperatures could feel as low as -3C. Thursday and Friday are forecast to be cloudy with sunny intervals, but the Met Office warns it will feel very cold – temperatures could at times feel as low as -5C.