Winter isn’t everyone’s favourite season and there’s no doubt that the cold weather can be a worry for those of us in later life.
As we get older, our bodies respond differently to the cold and this can leave us more vulnerable in cold weather. But with a little preparation, and by following some simple suggestions, we can help ourselves to stay healthy, safe and as comfortable as possible this winter.
Keeping warm both inside and outside your home can help reduce your risk of serious health problems that are more common in the colder months, such as chest infections, heart attacks and stroke.
Preparing for Winter
Getting ready for the cold weather – which can start as early as October – means that you’re more likely to keep warm and well. Keep batteries handy in case severe weather causes a temporary power cut. Keep your mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged, so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity.
Here are some things you can do to stay safe and ward off the winter chills
• Have your heating system serviced and your chimney swept, or ask your landlord to do this if it’s their responsibility.
• If you have wood-burning, coal or gas heaters, make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Never block air vents, and get your boiler serviced every 12 months by a gas engineer.
• Check with your energy supplier for further advice to help you prepare for winter.
• If water pipes freeze they can burst, so you need to be able to turn off the water at the main stopcock. Make sure you know where your main stopcock is and check that it’s easy to turn. If it’s jammed, you may need to get it replaced.
• Have your electric blanket serviced – this should be done at least every three years.
• Make sure that your smoke alarm is working. You can ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted.
• Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas appliance.
• Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills. We can advise you here at Age UK Bedfordshire.
• Dress in plenty of layers and make sure that you have some warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles.
• Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths in icy weather. Some councils provide free bags of the mix, if you or someone else can pick them up. Otherwise you could try a local DIY store.
• Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door. Contact us here at Age UK Bedfordshire and ask about our Handyperson Service so we can help you with these.
• Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house. Your pharmacist can make suggestions and also advise you on how to manage minor illnesses.
• Follow up your GP’s invitation to have a flu jab.
• Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast.
• Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service – this could be helpful if you can’t leave your home. We can also help collect prescriptions through our Home Help service at Age UK Bedfordshire.
• Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door. Or contact us at Age UK Bedfordshire and ask for our Assisted Shopping service.
• Eat healthily and keep as active as possible.
• Ask your family, neighbours or friends if they could call or visit you more often if a period of cold weather stops you getting out and about.
• Keep a battery-operated radio, torch and spare batteries handy.
• Keep a list of emergency numbers, such as your utility companies, by your phone. You could add our number (Age UK Bedfordshire) 01234 360510 if you need to contact us Monday-Friday 9.30am to 4pm.