Older people urged to keep houses warm in February
Published on 03 February 2012 02:00 PM
Keeping your home warm while it is cold outside could potentially save your life.
An extra 8,000 people die in England for every 1C the temperature drops below the winter average, according to figures from the Department of Health, many of whom are older people.
Last winter, 200 additional deaths a day were caused by the cold weather, many of which could have been prevented if people - particularly those in the most vulnerable groups - had kept themselves warm.
A number of easy steps can be taken, however, to stay healthy and warm during the cold winter temperatures.
Keeping the temperature of the bedroom above 18C is important and leaving the central heating on at night is a good way of doing this.
Keeping all parts of the house at a constant temperature is also crucial as sudden changes of temperature can have a negative effect on your health. Trapping heat in rooms by keeping doors closed is another useful tip to ensure homes stay warm.
Breathing in cold air at night is dangerous because it increases your chances of becoming ill. If your head, airways or hands get cold, your blood pressure will rise, which can heighten your vulnerability to strokes and heart attacks.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: 'It may have been relatively mild so far this year but the winter can be a dangerous time for older people.
'Many people believe that the only risk of winter weather is getting a cold, but the risk is much greater. Low temperatures raise blood pressure, which puts people at a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as increasing the likelihood and severity of flu and other respiratory problems.
'We want older people to be able to enjoy the winter and, most importantly of all, stay well.'
Mervyn Kohler, from Age UK, said: 'We have to strike a balance between the risk of sounding patronising and the importance of the advice.
'People who coped fine with very severe winters a few decades ago might not realise that their bodies are less sensitive to extremes of cold as well as heat. They are likely to be less mobile, so generating less body heat.'
Copyright Press Association 2012