As winter approaches and the weather becomes decidedly colder, certain members of our communities can be at risk, particularly those in later life.
Older people’s bodies respond to cold weather differently from younger people’s, making the elderly more vulnerable to the dangerous effects of cold.
However, there are several easy-to-implement ideas that can help older people prepare for winter to help them stay warmer, safer and hopefully healthy, too.
You may not be aware of the health implications of keeping warm. In fact, keeping warm outside and when you’re at home can actually help you lower the risk of getting a number of major health issues that are more common during the winter months. These include dangerous conditions like heart attacks, chest infections and stroke.
Here are our top 20 get-ready-for-winter tips. And remember, the weather can start to become threateningly chilly as early as October. Make sure you’re ready!
Ensure your central heating serviced before winter by a qualified engineer to ensure it’s working efficiently and safe.
Don’t ever consider blocking off air vents to prevent cold air getting in.
If you’ve got coal, gas or wood-burning heaters make sure there’s enough ventilation to help prevent them becoming dangerous.
Check you know where your main water stopcock is in your house and that it’s easy to turn off. If your water pipes freeze or even burst you’ll need to turn the water supply off in a hurry.
If you have an electric blanket get it serviced or checked for safety every three years.
Check that all your smoke alarms are working. You could even consider asking your local firefighters to assess your home for fire safety. This is a free service and, if you don’t have smoke alarms already, you might be able to get them fitted for free.
If you have gas appliances like a central heating boiler or gas fire, you should fit a carbon monoxide alarm near each one.
As your heating bills can soar in winter, be sure to claim any financial support you’re eligible for.
If it’s cold outside (or inside) a good way to keep warm is to dress in plenty of layers of clothing. It’s important to have warm footwear too, ideally with non-slip soles for icy days.
If it’s icy, a mixture of salt and sand can stop your drive or steps getting dangerously slippery. Keep some in a pan or bucket by your door.
If you know your steps get dangerously icy in winter, think about getting a ‘grab rail’ fitted to hold onto.
Make sure your stock of over-the-counter cold, sore-throat and flu medicines, like Lemsip etc, is topped up.
Most GP surgeries offer free flu jabs for older people – take advantage!
If you have drugs on repeat prescription, make sure you re-order well ahead of when you need them, especially if bad weather is around the corner and you may find it hard to get out and collect them.
Check whether your local chemists or pharmacy delivers.
Sometimes it might be too cold or too icy for you to go shopping safely. So why not keep a stock of essential foodstuffs in your home, just in case? Of course, if you shop online, you can get it all delivered without leaving your armchair.
Hard as it might be, try and stay as active as you can through the winter and eat healthily too.
It’s always a great idea to ask your friends, family and especially neighbours, if they can pop in to see you more often during the winter months.
Power cuts are sometimes more frequent in winter, so check you’ve got fully charged batteries in your torch and portable radio. (Remember to keep your mobile, iPad or laptop computer charged up, too, for the same reason.)
Write down a list of all the essential phone numbers you might need in an emergency – utility companies, GP surgery, friends and neighbours – and keep it right by the phone.