Keeping well in cold weather

The Met Office has issued a cold weather alert due to the falling temperatures this week.

There is currently a yellow warning for severe cold weather, ice and light snow across Essex. This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services.

For the very latest, visit the cold weather alert section of the Met Office website.

Keep Warm Keep Well

It's not just the icy conditions that can be treacherous during cold spells. The cold weather itself is life threatening, especially for the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.

Every year around 27% more people - the majority aged over 75 - die in the winter months compared to thet non-winter months which is why it is vital people keep warm and safe.

One of the best ways of keeping well during winter is to stay warm and follow the below top tips. Some may seem obvious, but they could help you to stay warmer and maintain good health over the coming weeks.

Heat your home well
By setting your heating to the right temperature (between 18-21ºC) you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills. If you feel cold at night, use a hot water bottle or electric blanket – but never use both together. It is especially important if you’re at home all day.

Wear a scarf when outdoors
Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – add a hat and wear shoes with a good grip, too. If you have a heart or respiratory problem like asthma or COPD, stay indoors during very cold weather.

Eat well and have plenty of fluids
Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.

Get a flu jab
You can get free flu jabs to protect against seasonal flu from your GP or local pharmacy if you are over 65, pregnant, or have a long-term condition.

Look after yourself and others
On cold days try to avoid going outside. However, if you do need to go out, remember to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well.

If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact your local council or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8am-7pm every day).

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

Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked

If you’re on medication, make sure you get your repeat prescriptions in time so you don’t run out. If you haven’t already, talk to your GP practice about registering for GP online services. Simply complete the relevant paperwork and you’ll be able to request repeat prescriptions online as well as make GP appointments. Check to make sure you have enough over the counter remedies for coughs and colds so you don’t need to leave home unless you have to.

Stay active
Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so indoors – get up and stretch your legs. Even moderate exercise can help keep you warm.

For more information on staying will this winter please visit NHS Choices.