Keeping Well During Winter Months & Cold Weather
The cold weather during the winter months can have affects on your health, both mentally and physically once the temperatures start dropping below 8c. Although very cold weather can affect anybody, people who are most vulnerable to the cold are over 65's, if you are on low-income and unable to afford heating, have long-term health conditions, a disability, mental health condition, young children and pregnant women.
Some people can be at risk of illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, flu, pneumonia as well as more likely to suffer falls and injuries.
Watch the weather
Keeping an eye on the weather is the best way to be prepared for any cold spikes, ice and snow or serious weather warnings such as high winds and flooding. You can now receive alerts from the Met Office or you can call the weather desk on 0370 900 0100 or 01392 885 680.
Keep yourself and your family warm in the home during colder months by heating your home to at least 18C, especially at night and keep windows closed. If you are under 65, healthy with an active lifestyle, you can safely choose to keep your home under 18C as long as you are comfortable.
Babies and infants rooms need to be heated between 16C and 20C, keeping their room heated can help to reduce the risk of cot death according to the NHS if babies are premature or of low birth weight.
It's a good idea to get your heating system checked regularly by a professional to avoid any boiler breakdowns which can happen during winter months.
Block out draughts by drawing curtains as it gets dark, keeping doors closed and use draught excluders to keep out the cold from front and back doors.
Protect your health
Seek advice from your pharmicist if you start to feel unwell in winter, even if it's a cough or a cold, it's best to get help before it gets more serious. You can find out if you are eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS.
This year the NHS have introduced a more effective flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over as well as offering a eligble adults under 65 the "quadrivalent" vaccine which protects against four strains of vthe flu virus.
Simple tips such as wearing several layers of clothing (rather than one chunky layer), using hot water bottles, having hot drinks and meals as well as staying active can help keep you warm and healthy during winter.
Eating a balanced diet and taking vitamins can help keep your immune system in check when colds and viruses are going around, as well as the standard "catch it, bin it, kill it" when it comes to sneezing and coughing. Always try to catch a cough or sneeze in a tissue, as germs can thrive on hands and surfaces for up to 24hours. Washing your hands often with warm water and soap or using an alcohol-based hand rub such as clinell sanitiser, is also the best way to keep any germs at bay!
The NHS advises if you have a heart or respiratory problem, it's best to stay indoors during very cold weather as it can increase breathing problems and make existing conditions such as asthma, worse.
Look after each other
Popping in on an elderly neighbour or relative, or anyone who may be vulnerable in the colder months is important to make sure they are warm and well. Ensure they are warm enough, their home is heated, especially at night and they are stocked up on food and medicines so they don't need to venture out during very cold weather.
Helplines and information:
Age UK helpline - 0800 678 1174 (7am - 8pm)
Weather Desk - 0370 900 0100 (24hrs)