Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health and one of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm. Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Residents in South Somerset are being encouraged to look at the Public Health England’s 2014 Cold Weather Plan for England for practical ways to minimise the risk to our health this winter. The plan, which is published by Public Health England, the Local Government Association and NHS England, offers advice that people can take, before and during the winter, to reduce the risks to health.
The plan urges everyone to consider how their homes can be better insulated and kept warm, to make sure heating systems are routinely checked and as flu circulates during the winter, encourages those eligible for a flu jab, to make an early appointment with their GP surgery.
Checks on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well are vital during cold snaps or prolonged periods of cold damp weather. Making sure they are warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.
Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council said, “Cold can be a killer to both the very young and older residents alike. Lack of mobility combined with inadequate heating can quickly lead to lowered resistance to disease and ailments with pneumonia leading the pack. Help is available and no-one should be too proud or stubborn to ask for a friendly hand. Staying warm in your own home makes much more sense than occupying a bed in hospital and it is down to all of us to make sure our friends, relatives and neighbours do everything they can to avoid an illness that might have been avoided.”
South Somerset District Council works in partnership with Wessex Homes Improvement Loans, a not-for-profit organisation, to assist homeowners to make essential repairs, adaptations or improvements to their homes. A loan can be provided to fix damp or roof problems, rotten windows, broken boilers or to provide insulation as well as other essential repairs.
Currently, there are 2.46 million households in England in fuel poverty. This is when a household is living below the poverty line and has higher than average energy bills. For grants to help you deal with fuel poverty this winter, you can call the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) on 0117 934 1400. A Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 is available if you were born on or before 5 July 1952. To find out more information about the Winter Fuel Payment, visit www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.
You can also contact South Somerset District Council’s Housing Standards Team if you would like to apply for loans. If you are living in rented accommodation with inadequate heating or where you consider that the house is not suitable to be lived in, you can contact Housing Standards on 01935 462462.
The Public Health England 2014 Cold Weather Plan for England can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365756/CWP_2014.pdf
Cold weather tips for the elderly:
- When outdoors, remember to dress warmly.
- Wear loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.
- Always wear a hat to protect against heat loss since about 30% of body heat loss is through the head.
To avoid slips and falls, wear boots that are non-skid.
- If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth or it will become slippery especially when it gets wet.
- Keep your thermostat set to at least 65 degrees to prevent hypothermia.
- When the temperature remains at 65, even if you are not at home, you can help to prevent freezing pipes by maintaining a high enough temperature within your walls.
- Outdoor winter tasks such a shovelling snow take more energy than most people think, especially because cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up the body. Also take frequent breaks.
More details on South Somerset District Council’s Housing Standards Team can be found using the provide link: http://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/housing/private-sector-housing/housing-standards-in-the-private-sector/
For more information contact: Housing Standards Team on: 01935 462508