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Stay well this winter

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, diabetes or heart or kidney disease. Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter. 

Take a look at this leaflet for some helpful advice

Please visit the NHS Stay Well website for lots of useful information and resources:

www.nhs.uk/staywell

Getting to your appointment

If you have an appointment or operation scheduled and you are able to travel safely, please attend as normal unless we contact you.

Please don't travel to hospital unless it is safe to do so.  If you can't attend an appointment or procedure please let us know by calling the number on your appointment letter. We'll be able to rearrange your appointment for you.

If you find that you aren't able to get to your appointment on time, don't worry you will still be seen, although it's possible your appointment time will need to be rescheduled. If you are able to let us know in advance - and it is safe for you to call - please ring the number on your appointment letter.

Please take extra care when you are out and about.

Stay warm and well

Keeping warm over the winter months can help you stay well.

Those aged over 65 and suffering from a disability or a long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease are more vulnerable to becoming ill in cold weather.

  • Try to keep your home warm. Keep your main living room at around 18-21°C (65-70°F). If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom just before you go to sleep. You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
  • Eat well. Food is a vital source of energy, which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.
  • Wrap up warm, inside and out. Layer your clothing to stay warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
  • Check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they're safe and well. Make sure they're 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 an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

Why is cold weather a problem?

When the temperature drops to below 8C, some people are at increased risk of:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • flu
  • pneumonia
  • falls and injuries
  • hypothermia

Cold weather can also affect people with mental health conditions, such as depression and dementia.

Who is most at risk?

Very cold weather can affect anyone, but you are most vulnerable if:

  • you're 65 or older
  • you're on a low income (so can't afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you're disabled
  • you're pregnant
  • you have young children (newborn to school age)
  • you have a mental health condition

Coping in very cold weather

Cold weather can dramatically affect your health. The Met Office provides the weather forecasts for broadcasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up-to-date with the weather. We will also provide updates on any severe weather alerts to help you prepare.

Follow these tips to keep you, your family and those around you warm and well in extremely cold weather:

  • Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts
  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer)
  • Keep as active in your home as possible.
  • Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside on cold days
  • If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can and make sure you wear enough clothes to stay warm. During the day, you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer
  • If you're under 65 and healthy and active, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you're comfortable.

Travel carefully in icy weather

Icy pavements and roads can be extremely slippery. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping. It adds you should wait until the roads have been gritted if you're travelling by car.

Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable to cold weather. Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or people with serious illnesses, so check in on them if you can. Read about how to spot and treat hypothermia.

People with heart or respiratory (breathing) problems may have worse symptoms during a cold spell and for several days (up to four weeks) after temperatures return to normal.

Weather forecasts

Keep informed of upcoming bad weather by checking the forecasts below. 

More detailed forecasts and weather information for other regions can be found on the Met Office website.

Be prepared

The Met Office provides weather forecasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up to date with the weather.

Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website, through the Met Office Twitter feed, or you can call the Weather Desk on 0370 900 0100 or 01392 885 680.

The Met office also has advice on getting ready for winter. This includes suggestions for practical things you can do to prepare for winter weather, including cold, ice and snow, high winds and flooding.

 To find out more, visit the NHS Choices Keep Warm, Keep Well page here.

These weather widgets are provided by the Met Office

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