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Preparing for winter

Cold weather can be a worry for those of us in later life. As we get older, our bodies respond differently and this can leave us more vulnerable in cold weather.

But with a little preparation, and by following some simple suggestions, we can help ourselves to stay healthy, safe and as comfortable as possible in winter.

Keeping warm both inside and outside your home can help reduce your risk of serious health problems that are more common in the colder months, such as chest infections, heart attacks and strokes.

Getting ready for the cold weather – which can start as early as October – means that you’re more likely to keep warm and well.

Here are some things you can do to stay safe and ward off the winter chills:

  • Have your heating system serviced and your chimney swept.
  • If you have wood-burning, coal or gas heaters make sure there’s adequate ventilation. Never block air vents, and get your boiler serviced every 12 months by a gas engineer.
  • If water pipes freeze they can burst, so make sure you know where the main stopcock is so you can turn off the water.
  • Have your electric blanket serviced at least every three years.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm is working. You can ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted.
  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas appliance.
  • Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills.
  • Dress in plenty of layers and make sure you have warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles.
  • Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths in icy weather.
  • Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door.
  • Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house.
  • Follow up your GP’s invitation to have a flu jab.
  • Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast.
  • Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service.
  • Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door.
  • Eat healthily and keep as active as possible.
  • Ask your family, neighbours or friends if they could call or visit you more often.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio, torch and spare batteries handy in case there’s a power cut. Keep your mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers, such as your utility companies, by your phone.

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Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565