Cold weather can worsen some health conditions, particularly for those that are 65 years and older. For free support from Age UK, call their advice line on 0800 687 1602. Lines are open 8am to 7pm, 365 days a year.
Age UK also provide information on their website about keeping well this winter.
Keep yourself healthy this winter
- get a flu jab if eligible, find out more on the NHS website
- get advice if you feel unwell by visiting your pharmacist (if you need medical advice when your pharmacy is closed call 111)
- tune in to weather forecasts and take this into account when planning your day
- check you have well-gripping shoes to prevent falls in cold weather
- wear several layers of clothes to stay warm
- remain active in your home
- eat well, aiming for at least one hot meal every day as well as warm drinks
- good hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of norovirus
- check the NHS website for health guidance on winter ailments (flu, winter vomiting, cold temperatures)
Staying warm in your home is important
- set your thermostat at around 18 to 21ºC (70ºF) and heat all the rooms you use in the day
- if you can’t heat all your rooms make sure you keep your main living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed
- in very cold weather, rather than turn the thermostat up, set the heating to come on earlier so you won’t be cold while you wait for your home to heat up
- have regular meals, including plenty of hot food and drinks, keeping your diet as varied as possible
- during the night try to keep the temperature above 18°C (65°F) in your bedroom
- contact your local Age UK for a benefits check if you need help with heating costs
Protecting your home
- check that pipes are adequately lagged and know where your stop tap is located
- check that your heating is serviced and cooking appliances in your home are working correctly
- check your smoke alarm - if you don’t have one, get one for free by signing up to a home fire safety check
- test your carbon monoxide alarms
- when using open fires, make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers, and make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go to bed
- keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
- keep heaters away from curtains and furniture, never use them for drying clothes and try to secure them against a wall to stop them falling over
- unplug electric heaters and blankets when you go out or go to bed
- only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas
- never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket
- don’t leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring
- electric blankets should be bought new (not second-hand), tested every three years, and replaced when more than 10 years old
- if you have to use candles or matches always secure them in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains
- put them out completely using a snuffer or water before leaving the room or going to bed
- discuss with family and neighbours how snow and ice might be cleared from in front of your house if you will be unable to do this yourself
On the roads
Winter driving can be hazardous
- check the weather forecast before setting off, if bad weather is forecast consider whether your journey is absolutely necessary
- top up anti-freeze and screen wash and check for wear and tear on wiper blades
- make sure your battery is fully charged
- keep tyres at the recommended pressures and check you have at least three millimetres of tread
- wipe dirt and spray off headlamps and make sure all bulbs are working
- keep windows clear of snow, frost, and condensation before setting off on a journey
- clear snow from the top of the car
- keep the fuel tank topped up and make sure you have enough fuel for your journey
- allow extra time for your journey and drive at a sensible speed
- accept your journey will take longer and don't take risks
- take a fully charged mobile telephone with you and carry a mobile charger and some emergency kit in the car (including a map, jump leads for the car battery, torch, warning triangle, ice scraper, de-icer, first-aid kit, and warm clothes)
- in severe weather or for a long trip, you may want to add a shovel, a pair of boots, a blanket, any medication, food, and a hot drink
Icy roads and snow can often mean that older or more vulnerable people are not able to get out and about.
If you have an elderly, vulnerable neighbour or relative, please look out for them in the winter months. They may need help with shopping, clearing paths, walking a dog or just to see a friendly face.
Specifically, if the curtains aren't opened during the day, or there are no lights on in the evening, there may be something wrong. Try knocking on the door to see if there's an answer. If not, contact a relative or friend who you think may have a key.
If you think there are serious grounds for concern, contact the emergency services by dialing 999.
For more general information see Age UK's Spread the Warmth campaign.
Clearing snow and ice from pavements
Anyone can clear snow and ice from the pavement outside their home or public spaces to prevent slips and falls.
Don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.