We love to talk about the weather in this country, but we are often unaware of the real threat to life that our winters can cause for older and vulnerable people. Our winters can be quite sudden and catch us off guard, which means people have little time to take precautions against the cold. It’s important to start planning for the cold weather now by taking simple measures like making sure you are getting any benefits you’re entitled to, speaking to your neighbours about how to cope with heavy snow or ice, and talking to your GP about getting your flu jab.
Recent winters have sadly resulted in many deaths of over-75s, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. In West Berkshire, the Office of National Statistics recorded 60 excess winter deaths in a single year.
So we urge everyone to think WARMTH this winter:
Wrap Up indoors and outdoors. Wearing extra layers indoors can help you keep warm. If you need to go outside, sturdy shoes with good grip or attachable grips to wear over your shoes can help prevent falls, and an insulated waterproof coat will help keep you warm and dry.
Alert Keep an eye on the weather forecast and stock up with nutritious food and speak to your GP about medicine in advance of a cold snap. If you have vulnerable neighbours, try and check up on them during cold weather.
Risk Minimise the risk of falls or becoming ill by taking the weather into account when you plan activity when severe weather is forecast. Plan ahead for the cold weather by talking to your GP about getting a flu jab, and talking to your neighbours about clearing snow in front of your home.
Money Winter bills can be very expensive. Make sure that you’re receiving all of the benefits you’re eligible for. In addition to the Winter Fuel Payments (Helpline 0345 915 1515), if it gets very cold you could be entitled to additional Cold Weather Payments (Helpline 0800 731 7898). Please call 0345 601 8821 for the Helpline in Northern Ireland. www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating
Temperature Keep your bedroom heated to 18°C (64°F) and your living room around 21°C (70°F). If you prefer to heat just your living room during the day, to keep you warm through the night try heating your bedroom just before you go to sleep.
Hot Meals One hot meal a day, and hot drinks throughout the day can help to keep you warm. Eating nutritious food regularly can help to keep up your energy levels and support your immune system in the cold weather.
We’re also urging people to make sure that they keep in regular contact with their friends and neighbours to make sure that they stay safe this winter. Simple measures like helping a neighbour stock up on food ahead of a cold snap could save them from a nasty fall if they try to venture out in bad weather.
After our long warm summer we must not be complacent about the upcoming winter. Please think WARMTH this winter and to help to prevent the thousands of needless cold weather deaths each year.
If anyone would like further advice on coping with the cold weather, please contact Bluebird Care (Newbury) on 01635 36953 for advice.
Director, Bluebird Care Newbury