Public-spirited postmen and milkmen were asked today to help keep an eye on the elderly and vulnerable during the cold snap.
The Local Government Association said "all community-spirited residents" were being urged to help support council workers and spot if people are in danger.
Sub-zero temperatures expected over the next week and increased heating bills mean there are concerns that the number of deaths this winter could top the 24,000 in the relatively mild 2011-2012 winter, it said.
While plans are in place to deal with extreme weather, the LGA urged people to look out for their neighbours.
Councillor David Rogers, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, council teams are ready to be drafted in to provide a variety of services to help the vulnerable deal with the severe winter weather, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters.
"But council staff can't be everywhere. They rely on community-spirited residents to look out for each other.
"We are calling on neighbours, postmen, milkmen and paperboys to step up and help save lives by knocking on doors and reporting anything out of the ordinary.
"Just a call on an elderly neighbour who's perhaps unable to ask for help can make all the difference.
" They may just need an extra blanket getting down from the loft or perhaps they didn't get out to collect their medicine this week. It takes no time to check in but could potentially save lives."
Cllr Rogers, who represents Newhaven & Ouse Valley West on East Sussex County Council, added that landlords had to "do their bit" by checking their tenants' heating worked and if necessary carry out repair work out as soon as possible.
Delays to boiler repairs by landlords were "unacceptable", he said, adding: "Councils will step in and force them to do the job if needs be."