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Keeping healthy and well during the cold weather

1 December 2023

We have gathered advice on ways to keep your home warm, efficient, and safe (and the support available to you to do so), and how best to look after yourself and others through the cold months.

The Met Office has produced a useful bank of information to help you get Weather Ready and stay warm and safe during extreme cold weather over winter.

To keep up to date with the latest forecasts, visit the Met Office's website.

Public health advice

Anyone can become unwell if they get too cold. It is important to follow this guidance so that you are prepared for cold weather and can take action to keep yourself warm. There are also actions you can take to keep healthy during the cold weather.

Whilst exposure to cold can affect anyone, some people are particularly at risk. These include:

  • Older people (aged 65 and above)
  • People with cardiovascular (heart and circulation) conditions
  • People with respiratory conditions (in particular chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
  • People with mental health conditions
  • People with learning and/or physical disabilities
  • Young children (particularly those aged under five)
  • Pregnant women
  • People on a low income

Keep your home warm

You should heat your home to a temperature that is comfortable for you. Low indoor temperatures can have a serious impact on your health, especially if you have medical conditions or are older.

Simple changes can help to keep you and your home warm. These include:

  • Try to heat rooms you spend a lot of time in, such as the living room or bedroom, to at least 18°C
  • Try to reduce draughts; you can fit draft excluders around doors cheaply
  • Keep your bedroom windows closed at night
  • Wear several layers of thinner clothing - this could keep you warmer than one thicker layer

When you are indoors, there are things you can do that will help to keep you warm and reduce the risk of developing medical problems, for example:

  • Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
  • If you find it difficult to move about, stretching your arms and legs can also help keep you warm
  • If you have visitors, it can help stop the spread of germs to ventilate the room for a few minutes before and after they arrive; you might be more comfortable leaving the window open during their visit, if it’s not too cold
  • When out and about, wear shoes with good grip to avoid slips and falls on slippery or icy surfaces

Looking after yourself 

There are several things you can do to support yourself during the cold months:

Get vaccinated

You can get vaccinated to help reduce risk from respiratory illnesses during the winter. This is particularly important if you have certain long-term health conditions that mean you are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. You can check your eligibility for a flu vaccination or COVID-19 seasonal vaccine online. Contact your pharmacist or GP or visit the NHS England website to learn more.

Seek medical advice

You should treat minor winter ailments like colds or sore throats promptly. NHS England provides information on steps you can take to manage colds or sore throats yourself, and when it may be appropriate to visit your local pharmacist for further advice and treatment. You can find details for your nearest pharmacy by searching online

If you are worried about your health or feeling down, contact your local pharmacist, NHS 111 or your GP, who will all be able to offer advice and support. In an emergency dial 999.

Looking after others

There are several things you can do to support those around you during the cold months:

  • Keep in touch with them and ask whether they are feeling unwell, or whether they need any practical help
  • If bad weather is forecast, see if they need any help stocking up on food and medication
  • If you are worried about someone else’s health, contact your local pharmacist, your GP or NHS 111, who will all be able to offer advice and support
  • If you think they may have hypothermia, contact NHS 111 for further assessment, and in an emergency dial 999. Typical signs that someone may be suffering from hypothermia include shivering, slow breathing, tiredness or confusion, and pale, cold skin

Further information

For more advice on these support measures or about how to stay warm and well during cold weather, further information can be found on:

Cost of living support and Community Spaces

You can access a wide range of local support on our Cost of Living Hub around topics such as: 

  • Help getting food
  • Keeping your home warm and energy efficient, and free, impartial advice to help manage your energy bills
  • What additional financial support you could be entitled to with our free Cost of Living Support Calculator 
  • Money advice, free and impartial debt advice, and specialist advice on a range of topics such as claiming benefits, employment issues, housing, immigration, debt, tax and advice for EU citizens 

We are working with our local partners to provide a network of Community Spaces. The majority of these are free, some may charge a minimal fee for some of their activities and meals. Find your nearest community space by visiting our directory.

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Up to: December 2023

Updated: 1 December 2023

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