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Keep warm, keep well

Cold weather can affect your health, find out how to keep yourself well and your home warm during the winter.

Why is cold weather a problem?

When the temperature drops to below 8°C, some people are at increased risk of:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Falls and injuries
  • Hypothermia

Cold weather can also affect people with mental health conditions such as, depression and dementia.

Who is most at risk?

Very cold weather can affect anyone, but you are most vulnerable if:

  • You're 65 or older.
  • You're on low income (so you can't afford heating).
  • You have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease.
  • You're disabled.
  • You're pregnant.
  • You have young childrern (newborn to school age).
  • You have a mental health condition.

How can you prepare yourself for cold weather?

The Met Office provides weather forecasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up to date with the weather.

Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website, through the Met Office Twitter feed, or you can call the Weather Desk on 0370 900 0100 or 01392 885 680.

The Met office also has advice on getting ready for winter. This includes suggestions for practical things you can do to prepare for winter weather, including cold, ice and snow, high winds and flooding.

How do you keep your home warm?

Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:

  • If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over or have a health condition such as, heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F).
  • Keep your bedroom at 18°C all night if you can and keep the bedroom window closed.
  • During the day you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.
  • To reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated between 16°C and 20°C.
  • If you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18°C, if you're comfortable.
  • Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts.
  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional.

Is there help towards heating costs available?

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

For more information on the Winter Fuel Payment visit the gov.uk website (external link).

For more information on the Cold Weather payment visit the gov.uk website (external link).

The Energy Saving Trust 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. You can find out more on thier website or call 0300 123 1234 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm).

It's worthwhile claiming all the benefits you are entitled to before winter sets in.

How do you protect your health in the cold?

If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or cold, don't wait until it gets more serious. Seek advice from your pharmacist.

Follow these tips on keeping well in the cold:

  • Find out if you can get the flu jab for free on the NHS.
  • Wear several layers of clothes rather than one chunky layer, clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat.
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed, don't use both at the same time.
  • Have at least one hot meal a day, eating regularly helps keep you warm; and make sure you have hot drinks regularly.
  • Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so indoors, get up and stretch your legs.
  • Stay active - even moderate exercise can help keep you warm.
  • Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors, add a hat and wear shoes with a good grip.
  • If you have a heart or respiratory problem, stay indoors during very cold weather.

How can you help vulnerable neighbours and relatives?

Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems, to make sure:

  • They're safe and well.
  • Are warm enough, especially at night.
  • Have stocks of food and medicines so don't need to go out during very cold weather.

If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact Rochdale Borough Council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8am to 7pm every day).

If you're concerned the person may be suffering from hypothermia, contact NHS 111.

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