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Keeping warm and well in winter

As winter draws in it is important to wrap up warm, stay healthy and look out for those who may be more vulnerable in colder weather.  

Risks of cold weather

The change in weather and the cold can be harmful to your physical health and lead to more serious conditions. It can also affect your mental health.

Our bodies respond in different ways when exposed to cold weather, even at temperatures, which are not ‘extreme’. Exposure to cold temperatures can make it more difficult to breathe and fight off infections. 

In cold weather we are more likely to get a heart attack or a stroke (due to higher blood pressure and risk of clots), we can contract flu and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, we are also more prone to falls and injuries as well as hypothermia. Indirectly, winter weather can also contribute to higher risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

This year, COVID-19 is likely to amplify the risks of cold weather.

How to keep warm

Living in a cold home can put your health at risk. There some simple things you can do to keep yourself healthy and your home warm and cosy:

  • Heat your home to at least 18℃ to minimise the risk to health, especially if you are 65 and over or have health problems. If heating the whole house is a problem heat the room, you spend most time in during the day and your bedroom you sleep in just before you go to sleep.
  • Check your thermostat.
  • Check the weather forecast and plan, for example food shopping trips and make sure you have enough of your prescription medicines.
  • Have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day and keep active and move around to help stay warm.
  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer, and when you need to go outside wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles.
  • Prepare your home for winter – for example, draught-proofing leaky windows and doors.

Winter vaccines

This winter it's essential that everyone who can gets their COVID-19 booster and flu jabs to protect themselves, the NHS and their loved ones.

The flu vaccine is available for free to more people than ever before this winter to help protect people from an unpredictable virus that can result in fever, coughing, pains, and more severe complications. Find out more about the flu jab and how to get it.

The COVID-19 booster vaccine is currently available to those aged 50 and over and everyone aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk from the virus.

Visit the winter vaccines page to find out more about both vaccines and if you are eligible.

Fighting the winter blues

Age UK has put together a guide to help fight the winter blues and how to keep your spirits up.

For some people winter can be a lonely time, The Silver Line is a free helpline for older people. You can call them any time of day or night on 0800 470 80 90 to talk about your day and express your feelings in confidence.

Further information on staying well and warm in winter:

Updated: 10 November 2021

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