Be prepared for the cold winter
There’s more to feeling ‘under the weather’ than most people realise. The cold and wintry conditions can cause severe illness and, in the worst cases, people can die. The cold weather, combined with low levels of sunlight after the clocks go back, means that many of us feel in poor health.
Severe cold snaps like those we suffered last winter can have dramatic effects on everyday life, especially for those people who are already vulnerable as a result of their age, illness or disability.
Avoid catching colds or flu
Colds and flu spread very easily. Young children in particular can be at risk of becoming unwell, as their immune systems are still developing. It’s worth following these simple and obvious hygiene measures to reduce the risk of catching and spreading infections.
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and encourage visitors and relatives to do the same.
- Throw away used tissues as soon as possible.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and use a hand sanitiser gel when you’re out and about.
- Stock up on over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.
Eating regular meals will help keep your energy levels up during the winter.
- Have plenty of hot food and drinks
- Plan your meals and keep your diet as varied as possible. Aim to include your daily five portions of fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day.
- Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, so that you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.
Heating your home effectively and safely
Some of these energy-saving tips may seem obvious, but they can make a big difference when it comes to reducing your fuel bills.
- By setting your heating to the right temperature, you can keep your home warm and lower your bills. Your main living room should be around 18-21°C (64-70°F), and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F). Above this and you may be wasting money; below this and you may be risking your health.
- Set your heating to come on just before you get up and switch off after you’ve gone to bed. If it’s very cold, set your heating to come on earlier and turn off later rather than turning the thermostat up.
- If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room throughout the day and your bedroom just before you go to bed. Remember to close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms you use most.
- Heating your home safely is really important. Remember to get your heating system checked regularly, and keep your home well ventilated.
- If you have open fires make sure they are properly ventilated. Use safety guards and don’t hang your washing near the open flames. If you use a fire or heater in your bedroom at night, always keep a window and the door open.
- Use your electric blanket as instructed and get it tested every three years. Remember never to use an electric blanket and a hot water bottle together.
- Switch you appliances (such as TVs and microwaves off rather than leaving them on standby.)
Keeping the heat in
Insulating your home not only helps to keep it warm and healthy, but it will also help to keep your heating costs down.
- Fit draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors
- Make sure that your loft has at least 10-11 inches (270mm) of insulation. Any home with 4 inches (100mm) or less should have it topped up.
- If you have wall cavities, make sure that they are insulated too.
- Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes.
You can read the full Keep Warm Keep Well leaflet by clicking here.