Preparing for bad weather

By following routine checks and maintenance on your home‚ you can feel safer and more secure during the winter months.

Don't take risks when checking your property. Always seek professional help where appropriate.

Preparing for winter


  • Service your boiler to make sure it's safe and working properly. Always use a opens link in new window Gas Safe Registered engineer. Some older and disabled people can have their gas appliances checked for free if they're on the Priority Services register with their supplier and meet the criteria. Ask your gas supplier for more information.
  • Make sure tanks and pipes are properly lagged, draught-proof your doors and windows and insulate your loft. Download the guide opens link in new window Save energy, pay less and the factsheet opens link in new window Help with heating costs.
  • Clear drain gratings and get the chimney swept.
  • Ensure that ventilators in rooms where they are used are not blocked.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm is working. Fit a carbon monoxide detector if you don't have one.
  • Make sure you know where the mains water stop valve (main stop cock) is so that you can turn it off in an emergency.
  • Check that electric fires are properly guarded.
  • Check that flexes on electrical appliances are undamaged and adaptors are not overloaded.

New advice for older people using oil-fired heating

In association with Age UK, OFTEC has launched a brand new guide to help older people in rural areas using oil-fired heating to save money and stay warm.

Download the guide Keeping warm this winter (PDF 1.5 MB)


  • Check the roof for cracked or dislodged tiles.
  • Check the gutters for cracks and debris.
  • Repair fences and gates, and don't leave loose items like garden furniture outside unsecured. They can blow around in high winds and damage your property.
  • Clear paving and driveways of leaves and moss to prevent slips and falls.

And don't forget to...

  • Stock your cupboards and freezer with basic foods in case it's too cold to go shopping. See the guide opens link in new window Healthy eating for tips on what to include.
  • Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service.
  • Keep emergency numbers, for instance for your plumber and utilities companies, somewhere you can easily find.
  • Make sure you have adequate, up-to-date insurance cover.

If you go away from home

Keep central heating or storage heaters set to come on at a low temperature when you are away. This will minimise the risks of tanks and pipes bursting through freezing.

Many insurance companies specify conditions if a house will be unoccupied for a certain amount of time. Always comply with these or it could seriously prejudice any claim. Get a neighbour or a friend to check on your house whilst you are away, and give them the contact number for a plumber and heating engineer in case of an emergency. Make sure they know where the stopcock is.

Your Age UK

Set your location to see what Age UK offers in your local area.

Age UK Advice:
0800 169 6565

Useful information to download

Help with downloads


What is a download?

A download is a document (like a research report, a leaflet, or an application form) that can be transferred from our website to your computer. You can download a file, view it on your screen, print it, or save it to your computer.

What is a PDF?

PDF stands for ‘portable document format’.

Most downloads on this website are PDFs. We use this format to ensure that the document looks the same on everyone’s computer (website pages, by contrast, appear differently depending on how people have set their computer up).

How do I download a PDF?

Computers use a program called Adobe Acrobat Reader to download PDFs. If you try clicking on a link to download a PDF and it doesn’t work, you will need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader onto your computer.

How do I install Adobe Acrobat Reader?

The process is quite straightforward and is free.

  1. Go to
  2. Click ‘Download’.
  3. Wait for the window to offer you the option to ‘Run’, then choose this option.
  4. Click ‘Next’.
  5. Click ‘Install’
  6. Wait for the window to offer you the option to ‘Finish’, then choose this option.

How do I change a download?

PDFs cannot be changed.

How do I print or save a download?

Downloads will open on your computer in a new browser window.

Inside this window (below all your web browser menus), there will be a toolbar with options for you to print or save the document.

Close the browser window to return to the Age UK website.

Can my screen reader read PDF downloads?

We have made every effort to make our PDFs accessible to screen readers. Please ensure that you have downloaded the latest version of Acrobat Reader from the Adobe Reader website to ensure that accessibility options are included in your version of the programme.

You can use Adobe Reader to read a PDF out loud with the following shortcut keys:

  • Read the document: Shift +Ctrl+Y
  • Read the open page only: Shift +Ctrl+V
  • Read to the end of the document: Shift+Ctrl+B
  • Pause: Shift+Ctrl+C
  • Stop Shift+Ctrl+E

You can convert a PDF document into a text file for use with other software and hardware such as Braille printers by opening the PDF and choosing ‘Save as text’ from the File menu.

Close window
Display options

Set the appearance of this website so you can read it more easily

Text size


To see information relating to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales set your preference below: