Keeping Warm in Winter

Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

The chances of these problems are higher if you’re vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you’re over 65
  • you’re on a low income (so can’t afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung, kidney disease or an end of life condition
  • you are disabled (physically or mentally)

How to fight flu

Flu is a highly infectious illness that can spread rapidly. You may be eligible for a free flu jab if you’re at risk of complications from flu. Your General Practitioner will ensure you are offered this if you meet the criteria.

Find out if you can get the flu jab for free on the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx

Or contract your GP Surgery.

Fuel poverty facts

In the UK, in the winter of 2012-13 there were 31,000 deaths linked to the cold weather.

Currently, there are 2.46 million households in England in fuel poverty. This is when a household is living below the poverty line and has higher than average energy bills.

Read more about fuel poverty from the Energy Bill Revolution:

http://www.energybillrevolution.org

Keep your home warm

  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. It’s a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night.
  • If you’re under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable.
  • You can also use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you’re in bed. It would be safer, if you have a disability, to ensure you have someone to assist you when preparing your hot water bottle.
  • Ensure your electric blanket has been checked for safety issues i.e. frayed edges, worn connections etc. This should be done on a regular basis.

Eat well in winter

Food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.

It is always worth thinking about having a flask of soup or hot drink by your side if your mobility is compromised.

Wear warm clothes

Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

A warm hat is good for keeping you warm and at an even temperature.

Help your neighbours in winter

Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.

If you’re worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact Social Services or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 169 2081.

If you have not seen your relative/s or elderly neighbour/s during the cold periods, please contact the emergency services or Social Services.

End of Life Conditions

Those that experience end of life conditions may need the temperature of their home increased more than normal. If this causes financial hardship, you may be entitled to some help from Macmillan Cancer Support or Marie Curie.

To ascertain if you or someone you know are eligible, please refer to these services direct.

Macmillan Cancer Support helpline is: 0808 808 0000 (Monday to Friday 9am-8pm) or visit their website: http://www.macmillan.org.uk

Marie Curie helpline is: 0800 090 2309 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) or visit their website: http://www.mariecurie.org.uk

Cold weather benefits

You may also be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.

Winter Fuel Payment

A Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 is available if you were born on or before January 5 1953 or you normally live in Northern Ireland or Great Britain on any day during 21st-27th September. You can get it if you’re working or claiming a benefit.

Find out more about the Winter Fuel Payment: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment-how-to-claim

Or from Age UK: https://www.ageuk.org.uk

Cold Weather Payment

Cold Weather Payment may be available to you if you receive certain benefits. Payments are made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of 0C or below over seven consecutive days.

You’ll get a payment, decided by the government, of £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31.

Find out more about the Cold Weather Payment: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

Or from Age UK: https://www.ageuk.org.uk

How to reduce your energy bills

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK.

Find out more online from the EST website (http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk) or call 0300 123 1234 (9am-8pm Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday).

Your local County Council or Housing Association can also advise/help on reducing your energy bills or making improvements to your home.

Tips on how to cope in very cold weather

Follow these tips to keep you, your family and those around you warm and well in extremely cold weather.

To keep warm and well during spells of cold weather:

  • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer) or a warm woolly hat or similar.
  • Keep as active in your home as possible.
  • Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days.
  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. It’s a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night.
  • If you’re under 65 and healthy, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable.
  • If you are really struggling financially, physically or mentally during the cold weather contact your local Social Services.

For more information, visit:

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/getinvolved/spread-the-warmth1/tips-on-keeping-warm-this-winter/

Norfolk County Council

County Hall
Martineau Lane
Norwich
Norfolk
NR1 2DH
Tel: 0344 800 8020 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm)

http://www.norfolk.gov.uk

Suffolk County Council

Endeavour House
8 Russell Road
Ipswich
Suffolk
IP1 2BX
Tel: 0808 800 4002 (Monday-Friday 8am-6.45pm)

http://www.suffolk.gov.uk

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