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Winter Health

Winter health

Winter and cold weather can have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself healthy and 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. In the winter of 2012-2013 in the UK, there were 31,000 deaths linked to the cold weather.

The chances of these problems are higher if you're vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you're over 65
  • 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 are disabled

The links below, provide important information and guidance that will help you and your family to stay healthy during the winter months.

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

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 emergency social care support at North Lincolnshire Council on 01724 297000 or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

Currently, there are 2.39 million households in the UK in fuel poverty. This is when a household has a low income and the cost of heating their home is high, and should they spend the amount they need to to keep their home warm, they would be left with an income below the poverty line.

You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments

Winter Fuel Payments of up to £300 are available if you were born on or before 5 July 1952. To find out more about Winter Fuel Payments, call 08459 151515 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, textphone 0845 601 5613) or visit Winter Fuel Payments.

Cold Weather Payments may be available to you if you receive certain benefits or have a child who is disabled or under the age of five. To find out more about Cold Weather Payments contact Jobcentre Plus (you can find the nearest office in the phonebook) or visit Cold Weather Payments.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. Find out more online from the EST website or call 0300 123 1234 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm).

For more information on affordable warmth and energy saving, contact North Lincolnshire Council's Affordable Warmth team.

Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. If you're at risk of complications from flu, make sure you have your annual flu vaccine, available from September onwards.

If you are at risk of complications from flu, you may be eligible for a free flu jab if you are:

  • aged 65 and over
  • aged six months to under 65 in clinical risk groups (with a long term health condition)
  • pregnant
  • aged two, three or four years old
  • in long stay residential care homes
  • a carer

If you are a health care or social worker, check the arrangements with your employer to see if you are eligible for the vaccine as it is recommended that front line workers are vaccinated every year against the flu.

If you are unsure if you qualify for the free flu jab, contact you GP.

A number of infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another by contaminated hands, particularly gastrointestinal infections, flu and Hepatitis A.

While healthy people may recover quite quickly from these diseases, serious complications can arise, especially in young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of organisms that cause these diseases. Drying your hands properly too, is as important as washing them.

You should wash your hands thoroughly:

  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • after smoking
  • after using a tissue or handkerchief
  • after handling rubbish or working in the garden
  • after handling animals
  • after attending to sick children or other family members 

To find out how to wash your hands thoroughly, please see our handy guide! [PDF, 120Kb]

Many people feel they have lower energy levels during the winter months. To overcome this, it is important to get enough sleep, eat a balanced nutritious diet and be physically active.

Visit NHS choices for information about making healthy lifestyle choices during winter and throughout the year.

If you're worried about a vulnerable or elderly person, whether a friend, relative or neighbour, contact North Lincolnshire Council's emergency social care support on 01724 297979 or the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66.

Staying healthy over winter can be a challenge for anyone, especially for those that manage a long term condition or have a weakened immune system such as, young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Tips for a healthier winter:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: water will help keep you hydrated

  • Eat your five a day: hot vegetable soups and stews are a great way to reach your five a day and keep you warm and healthy

  • Add moisture to the air in your house with a humidifying device

  • On cold days: when outside, breathe through your nose and wrap a scarf around your face, it will help warm the breathed in air which may save you a few coughing spells

  • Avoid colds: if others have a cold, try to avoid them as their germs are airborne.

  • Keep your nose clean: blow your nose as often as required. Your nose works overtime in the winter months by trapping dust and germs

  • Keep Active: if the weather gets too bad to exercise outside, walking around the house, climbing the stairs and cleaning the house all count as exercise.

  • Avoid dust: replace the air filters if you have a central heating system and dust frequently, especially where dust can gather in hard to reach places

  • Keep a healthy weight: during winter months, try and stay at or below your ideal weight

  • Consider the flu vaccine

  • Stay away from smokers: be aware that smoke from someone else’s cigarettes can be irritating and as harmful to you as if you were smoking

Prevent food poisoning

If your are buying a frozen turkey this year, make sure it is thoroughly defrosted before you begin to cook it. This will lower your risk of getting food poisoning. For more information about how to cook safely this Christmas you can follow the guidelines provided by NHS Choices 

Know your limits

Britons drink 41 per cent more alcohol in December than the yearly monthly average. Drink driving, falls and fires in the home all rise sharply at Christmas so make sure you plan ahead. The NHS recommends the daily alcohol intake for men is no more than 3-4 units a day and for women it is 2-3 units per day. To find out more about alcohol and units visit NHS Choices

Exercising in winter

Stay active throughout autumn and winter to beat the winter blues. Exercising not only improves your health but can improve your mood and help you feel more positive even on the darkest days. There are plenty of exercises whether you are old or young or prefer indoors or outdoors. Here are a short list of activities to get you started and can be done indoors too!

  • Archery

  • Badminton

  • Cycling

  • Dancing

  • Pilates

  • Swimming

  • Yoga

Keeping active even later on in life or if you have a disability is easy and fun, click the link for more information around sports and activities for older adults and adults with a disability.

Safe sex

Don't get caught out this party season with an unwanted STI or unintended pregnancy, look after yourself and be prepared. Here are some tips to help you prevent any unwanted accidents during the festive season:

  • Stock up on contraception

  • Stock up on condoms

  • Know where to get emergency contraception

  • Know how to find a clinic

  • Don't panic if your GP surgery is closed, emergency contraception can be taken within three days (72 hours) or five days (120 hours) depending on the pill you take, after you have had unprotected sex.

Further information is provided on sexual health North Lincolnshire website

Winter weather can be a cause for concern for a lot of people during the winter months, especially the elderly. Here is some information and actions you can take to help make your winter a safe one.

Tips for reducing a slip, trip or fall

  • Check the weather and be aware when bad weather is coming
  • When frost, ice or snow has been forecast, use salt or grit to areas like your garden path and drive way
  • Try to avoid areas that are sloped or constantly wet and in the shade
  • Buy some ice grips and/or snow treads to attach to the bottom of your shoes to stop slipping and falling
  • If you have one, wear your personal alarm at all times either around your neck or wrist. The council's Care Call service is a provider of personal alarms and other telecare systems.

There is often some confusion around whether or not you should clear snow and ice from pavements. If you clear snow and ice carefully and grit afterwards, it is unlikely that you'll be held accountable if someone falls.

We have more information around the gritting routes in North Lincolnshire on our gritting page.

More information around salting and gritting is provided on our highway maintenance pages.

Related pages

Documents

Contact details

Emergency Social care support (Adult Services)

01724 297000

aapcustomersupport@northlincs.gov.uk

Opening hours

Emergency Social care support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Last updated: 03/10/2017