Snow and cold weather
In recent years the UK has experienced periods of low temperatures and persistent snowfall which can have dramatic effects on every day life. These have caused increases in injuries due to accidents and falls, failure of communications and power supplies and closure of transport networks.
In winter, the cold weather combined with low levels of sunlight after the clocks go back, means that many of us feel in poor health. Extreme cold weather can affect us all. However, certain groups may be at particular risk. The very young, very old or those with pre-existing medical conditions are more susceptible. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia which can become life threatening. Rain can form as ice where surface temperatures are below freezing. Even a small amount of ice can be extremely hazardous to motorists and pedestrians.
So what can we do to stay healthy this winter?
The government has issued advice on staying safe and healthy during the winter. It is particularly aimed at the over 60’s, low-income families and people living with a disability. However, the general advice within the ‘Keep Warm Keep Well’ booklet is applicable to everyone. This booklet promotes its five top tips for keeping warm and well:
- Heat your home well.
By setting your heating to the right temperature (18-21C or 64-70 F), you can keep your home warm and your bills as low as possible.
- 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.
- Eat well.
Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.
- Get a flu jab.
You can get a free jab from your GP to protect against seasonal flu is you are over 65, have a long-term health condition or are pregnant.
- Look after yourself and others.
On cold days try to avoid going outside; however, if you do need to, remember to wrap up warm. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during winter to make sure that they are safe and well.
Help and Advice
The Home Heat Helpline – 0800 33 66 99 (9am-8pm Mon-Fri and 10am-2pm Sat) or visit www.homehethelpline.org.uk
A free national helpline offering access to grants for free home insulation and reduced or ‘social’ tariffs from energy suppliers, as well as advice on managing you bills and reducing your energy use.
Citizen Advice – 08444 77 1010 (10am-4pm Mon to Fri) or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk Your local bureau will be able to give you advice on benefits, heating, grants and debt.
Visit the Met Office 'Get Ready for Winter' pages for advice and links to a range of organisations to help individuals, families and communities prepare for winter.