30/11/2012 - Permalink

Be prepared this winter: know how to keep warm and well

Related topics: Community / Health

Severe cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young or very old, or those with existing health conditions.  Each year the NHS sees people admitted to hospital or in serious cases dying with conditions aggravated by the cold weather. 

Many of these cases could be avoided if people take a few precautions and are prepared for winter.  People with respiratory problems should especially be prepared and take extra precautions to stay warm, as the cold can often aggravate their condition.  

By regularly checking the weather forecast at www.metoffice.gov.uk, people can know in advance when they need to take extra care on icy pavements or take action to keep warm. 

The following tips can help people to keep warm and well, and stay out of hospital during periods of cold weather: 

  • Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day if possible.  Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
  • Look after yourself, and check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they are safe, warm and well.  Wrap up warm if you need to go outside on cold days, but wear layers and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside
  • Keep as active as possible
  • Keep curtains drawn and doors closed to block out draughts
  • Keep your main living room at around 18-21°C (64-70°F), and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F).  If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep
  • Get financial support.  There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.  It’s worthwhile claiming all the benefits you are entitled to and to access these before the winter sets in; visit www.nhs.uk or www.gov.uk for more information on who is eligible
  • If you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, have an eligible long term condition, or are a carer for an older person or person with disabilities whose welfare may suffer if you fall ill, make sure you take up your free NHS flu immunisation
  • Watch out for icy conditions; icy pavements and roads can be very slippery.  Take extra care if you go out and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles.  For advice on how to safely clear driveways and footpaths from snow and ice visit www.metoffice.gov.uk and read their snow guide
  • Keep an eye on the weather – visit www.metoffice.gov.uk and be prepared. 

Dr Irfan Ghani, Consultant in Public Health for Shropshire County PCT, said:

 “Winter can cause real problems for people with existing health conditions, older people and people struggling to heat their homes.  Every winter the NHS nationally sees deaths caused by the cold weather and icy conditions, including heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.  There is a range of health advice available at www.nhs.uk to help people prepare themselves for cold weather and help people struggling to afford heating bills.

“This winter we are encouraging people to be prepared.  By wrapping up warm before leaving the house, taking care on icy pavements or keeping warm – including having hot meals and drinks, keeping active and keeping your home warm – you can stay well and enjoy the season.”

Dr John Reid, NHS Telford and Wrekin’s Consultant in Public Health, said:

 “Over 20,000 more people die each winter in England, particularly in elderly groups.  A significant proportion of these excess winter deaths could be prevented.

“We are encouraging people to be prepared this winter; don’t get caught out by cold weather.  By taking a few precautions, including keeping warm, having enough medication and food in your house and keeping an eye on the weather forecast, you can help avoid being admitted to hospital.

“We are also encouraging people to think of their neighbours, family and friends.  Be a good neighbour and check on anyone who may be more vulnerable to the cold, help ensure they are keeping well and, importantly, warm.”


Story from our partners Shropshire County NHS Primary Care Trust, and NHS Telford and Wrekin.