We’ve got used to mild weather and generally mild winters, but the cold weather can catch you unawares, particularly if you are elderly or disabled.
There are a number of agencies which can help if you or someone you know is struggling with the cold weather. You can find out what help is available with one simple call to Help Direct and they will signpost you to help and advice.
No matter whether you are young or old, we are all more vulnerable to colds, flu and infections in winter. Keeping warm is key to keeping well, and your health could be in danger if your home falls below 14 degrees. Equally, temperatures above 27 degrees can be just as bad for prolonged periods of time.
Make sure that you are ready for a cold snap, but also have a think about those around you. Do you have neighbours, relatives or people in your community who are alone, not too fit or agile, and might be vulnerable in bad weather? Why don’t you pop round to their house and just ask if they are OK or need any help.
A cold home can cause:
– breathing problems,
– heart attacks
– accidents in the home
Some things can be done easily and quickly to make sure that you are prepared and stay safe from the risk of cold weather.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast
Keep a basic range of food and vegetables in the store cupboard and freezer – and don’t forget to stock up on pet food too
Keep a couple of bottles of water to hand in case of frozen pipes
Make sure you have a stock of all the medicines you takek, including basic cold remedies and first aid cupboard things
Keep a shovel, torch and some salt handy
In your own home:
– keep doors and windows closed – to reduce draughts and keep the warm air inside.
– close the curtains – you’d be surprised how much warmer it makes a room – and make sure they don’t hang over the top of radiators too – tuck them down the back.
– keep your home at the right temperature – your living room should be about 21 degrees and the bedroom 19. Use the timer to warm rooms up before you need them (if you’re going out, or when you get up in a morning).
– Keep moving – get up and have a walk around the house about once an hour. Do a few chores, nip to the loo, walk to the kitchen and back. The exercise will help your circulation and keep you warm. If your mobility isn’t good, wiggle your arms and legs from your chair!
– Stay inside during really cold weather – unless you have got to go out, stay inside when the weather is at its worst. If you’ve got to go out make sure you are wrapped up with lots of layers, and wear suitable shoes too.
– Wrap up warm – even if you are inside. Lots of thinner layers will keep you much warmer than one thick one. Wool and cotton tops and T shirts are best, and fleecy synthetic fibres are excellent for keeping you warm. If you sit for a long while a shawl or blanket is lovely to snuggle into – and pop on a hat – you lose a surprising amount of heat from your head, even if you are indoors.
Eat to keep warm and well – you might not want to go to a cold kitchen for food but it’s vital that you have regular hot drinks and hot meals, as they will keep you warm from inside and provide energy to keep your body warm between meals.
Some things take a little more time and planning, but make a big difference to your comfort during winter months.
You might be able to get support – give Help Direct a ring and check:
Have your flu jab – you need one EVERY YEAR because the flu virus keeps changing. If you’re called by your GP go and have a jab. It’s quick, practically painless and could save you a nasty illness that makes you feel very ill, or much worse.
Insulate your home – not only does it save you money, it also keeps your home warm and toasty. Cavity wall, loft insulation and pipe lagging will need to be fitted for you, but you can insulate your windows with thermal curtains and use draught excluders too.
Central heating and hot water – make sure they are in good working order, and user timers and thermostats to regulate both the temperature and your bills!
Get financial support – make sure that you are getting all the benefits to which you are entitled, including grants to keep your house warm and insulated. Make sure that you are on the best tariff from your energy company too.