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Locals urged to be aware of the dangers to health in cold weather

17 January 2023

Cambridgeshire County Council shares some handy tips and advice to bear in mind this winter when the temperature drops!

Every year the number of deaths expected during winter increases when we get cold weather. Cold weather and freezing temperatures are threats to health, they can lead to depression and loneliness, falls, respiratory infections, strokes, heart attacks and other health risks. Cold affects our body’s ability to fight off infections which can worsen these conditions and increases the risk of becoming very ill.

Staying indoors to avoid the cold can lead to other issues. Viruses like flu and Covid-19 can lead to respiratory illnesses which affect breathing and are more easily spread indoors when people are near one another.

This winter there is a particularly high number of people who are ill with respiratory illnesses. You can help prevent the spread of infection through practicing good hygiene wherever you are. If you do feel unwell, stay at home as this helps prevent the spread of any infections. While vaccines have lowered the risk, Covid-19 and flu are still very much in circulation, so it's important to protect yourself and check that you are fully vaccinated.

The list below are actions you can take to be prepared for winter and the issues it sometimes brings.

Keep warm

· Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer to trap the heat better.

· Try and heat the rooms you use to at least 18°C. If you can't heat all the rooms, heat the living room during the day and your bedroom just before you go to sleep. Keep bedroom windows shut at night.

· Draw your curtains at dusk, tucking them behind radiators, ensuring they are not obstructed by furniture.

Be prepared

· Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, warm clothes, torch and batteries, power packs, and any essential medication.

· Draught-proof windows and doors and insulate your loft, cavity walls, hot water cylinder, and pipes.

· In the event of a power cut, call '105' who will be able to tell you what caused the outage and when your power will be restored.

· Power and utility companies have schemes that make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts - visit www.ofgem.gov.uk to find out more.

Look after others

· Check on older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses.

· Ask if they need food, medicine, emergency supplies, can keep warm, or if they're feeling under the weather.

· Clear icy pavements for them as they can be very slippery.

Look after your health

· Stay home if unwell and if you need to go out, wear a face covering.

· Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.

· Catch sneezes and coughs in tissues, bin it, and wash your hands.

· Get booster Covid-19 and flu vaccinations - visit www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations to check if you are eligible.

· Stay active, as this helps both your physical and mental health, but wear shoes with a good grip to prevent falls.

· Try not to sit for more than an hour - get up and walk around.

· Food is a vital source of energy and helps to keep your body warm. Aim to include five daily portions of fruit and vegetables - tinned and frozen count.

· Reach out for mental health support if you are not feeling yourself, visit www.cpslmind.org.uk.

· Hot drinks will help you to stay warm. Cut back on drinking too much alcohol.

Winter support and financial help

If you want to know if you could receive grants to address your urgent heating needs, you can find out by following these links, contacting your District or City Council or through Citizen’s Advice Bureau and other organisations that offer support to those in need.

  • PECT (energyadvice@pect.org.uk or ring 0800 8021773) if they live in Cambridge City, Fenland, Huntingdonshire or East Cambridgeshire, or

If you are struggling to feed your family as well as heating your home, direct financial support may be available search Household Support Fund - Cambridgeshire County Council

To find a warm home and welcoming space near you visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/support-with-the-cost-of-living

For ongoing energy efficiency and bills support, call 0800 444202 or visit www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk.

For more advice and information, visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk