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Stay Well in Winter

Stay Well in Winter

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Stay well this winter

Some people are more vulnerable to the risks posed by cold weather than others. These include:

  • people aged 65 and older
  • babies and children under the age of 5
  • people on a low income (so are not able to heat their home)
  • people with health conditions or impairments
  • people who have a disability
  • pregnant women
  • people experiencing homelessness

Some of the health risks associated with cold weather include: respiratory illnesses (such as COVID-19, flu and bronchitis), cardiovascular risks (heart attack and stroke), accidental injury such as falls, and much less commonly hypothermia. This leaflet gives further advice on how to stay well this winter and look out for others that may be more vulnerable to these risks.

 

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Look after yourself

  • Food is a vital source of energy and helps to keep your body warm. Aim to have 5 portions of fruit and veg, hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day
  • Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don't have to go out too much when it's cold or icy
  • Exercise is good for you and helps to keep you warm and healthy. If possible, try to move around at least once an hour. Remember to contact your GP if you have a health condition before starting any exercise plans
  • If you do not have any pre-existing medical conditions and are aged 40 to 74, you are eligible to receive a free NHS Health Check every 5 years. Your GP surgery will contact you, or you can call your surgery to book an appointment
  • Wear lots of thin layers - clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and maintain body heat
  • Hot water bottles and electric blankets can be useful ways to keep warm- however they should NOT be used together
  • Wear well-fitting slippers with a good grip indoors and shoes with a good grip outside to prevent trips, slips and falls
  • Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to help block draughts and keep the room warm
  • Check with Ofgem www.ofgem.gov.uk or call on: 020 7901 7000 if you are eligible for inclusion on the Priority Services register operated by your water and power suppliers.

 

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Protect yourself and others - get your COVID-19 and Flu seasonal booster

COVID-19 Vaccination

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions.

This winter it is expected that many respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu may be circulating at high levels - this may put increasing pressure on hospitals and other health care services.

For these reasons, all residents in a care home for older adults, all adults aged 65 years and over, persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, frontline health and social care workers, persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts or persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers are being offered an autumn booster for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The autumn booster is being offered to those at high risk of the complications of COVID-19 infection, who may have not been boosted for a few months.

As the number of COVID-19 infections increases over the winter, this booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

You can book a 1st, 2nd dose, booster and seasonal COVID-19 vaccine using the National Online Booking Service or by calling 119, or you can find a local vaccination walk-in site local vaccination walk-in site

 

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Flu vaccination for adults

Flu vaccination is important because, while flu is unpleasant for most people, it can be dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly those with certain health conditions.

The best time to have your flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading, but you can get your vaccine later.

The flu vaccine is free for younger children, older people, those in clinical risk groups and pregnant women. Click here for more information.

To book an appointment for a flu vaccine contact your GP practice or a pharmacy offering the service. Click here for more information.

The flu vaccine is offered through schools for school-aged children and pregnant women can get their flu vaccine through their GP practice, pharmacy or maternity service.

The COVID-19 and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and some people might get both vaccines at the same time. However, this may not always be possible, so we encourage everybody to get each vaccination as soon as they can, rather than waiting to get both at the same time.

Please help to keep yourself and those around you safe against these viruses by getting vaccinated when you are invited. You can find out more about what vaccinations you may need, and information about how to book an appointment, by visiting www.nhs.uk/flujab and you can find out more information here.

 

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Shingles vaccination for adults

Shingles is a common condition that causes a painful rash. It can sometimes lead to serious problems such as long-lasting pain, hearing loss or blindness.

You're more likely to get shingles, and it's more likely to cause serious problems, as you get older or if you have a severely weakened immune system.

The shingles vaccine helps:

  • reduce your chances of getting shingles
  • reduce your chances of getting serious problems if you do get shingles

The shingles vaccine is recommended for some older adults and people with a severely weakened immune system:

  • people who turn 65 on or after 1 September 2023
  • people aged 70 to 79
  • people aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system

Speak to your GP surgery if:

  • you think you're eligible for the shingles vaccine, but you've not been contacted
  • you did not have the vaccine when you were contacted and you're still under 80 (only people with a severely weakened immune system can get the vaccine after 80 years of age)
  • you're due to have your vaccine and you're feeling unwell - you may need to wait until you're feeling better before having the vaccine
  • you need to change your vaccination appointment

Your GP surgery can book or rearrange an appointment.

Information about the Shingles vaccine can be found here.

 

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MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine

The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective combined vaccine which protects against three serious illnesses, measles, mumps and rubella.

These highly infectious conditions can easily spread between unvaccinated people.

Getting vaccinated is important, as these conditions can also lead to serious problems including meningitis, hearing loss and problems during pregnancy.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

If you have any questions about vaccinations, you can:

  • ask your GP surgery or other healthcare professionals for advice
  • read more about why vaccination is safe and important here

Speak to your GP surgery if:

  • you think you or your child has missed any vaccinations
  • you need to change a vaccination appointment
  • at any age, you're not sure if you or your child has had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine

Your GP surgery can book or rearrange an appointment.

It's best to have vaccines on time, but you can still catch up on most vaccines if you miss them.

Further information on measles can be found on here.

Information about the MMR vaccine can be found here.

 

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Flu vaccinations/nasal spray for children

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can also lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Children can catch and spread flu easily. Vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:

  • children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2021)
  • all primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • some secondary school aged children (Year 7 to Year 11)
  • children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they'll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray. This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years old.

The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They'll be offered a flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them. Injected flu vaccines are also safe and effective.

Find out more about how to protect your child with the free flu vaccine.

 

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Recommended minimum indoor temperatures for homes in winter

Having a warm home can help us keep healthy and well. Cold homes can increase the risk of respiratory diseases in both adults and children, and for some people a cold home can result in a hospital stay that could have been prevented. Heating homes to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to the health of a sedentary person, wearing suitable clothing.

Daytime recommendations are to heat your home to 18°C. This threshold is particularly important for people 65 years and over or with pre-existing medical conditions. Having temperatures slightly above this threshold may be beneficial for health. The 18°C threshold also applies to healthy people (aged one to 64 years)*; If they are wearing appropriate clothing and are active, they may wish to heat their homes to slightly less than 18°C.

Overnight recommendations are to maintain the 18°C threshold. This may be beneficial to protect the health of those 65 years and over or with preexisting medical conditions, who should continue to use sufficient bedding, clothing and thermal blankets, or heating aids as appropriate. The 18°C threshold may be less important for healthy people (age one to 64)* if they have sufficient bedding, clothing and use thermal blankets or heating aids as appropriate.

If heating your home is difficult, support is available. The new West Berkshire Cost of Living Hub, which has been created to support those facing hardship this winter, is open and we are here to help.

You can also find more information on help and support with saving energy here.

* Please note there is an existing recommendation to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The advice is that rooms where your baby sleeps should be heated to between 16 to 20°C (61 to 68F). For more information on SIDS, please visit The Lullaby Trust: www.lullabytrust.org.uk or NHS.

 

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Keep the warmth in

  • Make sure you have a supply of heating oil, LPG or solid fuel if you are not on mains gas or electricity
  • Make sure all gas, solid fuel and oil burning appliances are serviced by a registered engineer
  • Fit draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors
  • Make sure you have loft insulation. If you have cavity walls, make sure they are insulated too
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
  • Make sure you draw your curtains at dusk to help keep heat inside your rooms
  • Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture
  • In the day time it is also important to ventilate the home. In cold weather, opening the window slightly for a short period is an effective way to bring in fresh air
  • Do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat the home. This is not efficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm
  • If you are privately renting accommodation and your heating is defective, first contact the landlord. If this is not resolved environmental health can be contacted here.
  • For more information on keeping your home warm and saving energy, visit the Energy Savings Trust website: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk. More information can also be found here.

 

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Look after others

Check in on older neighbours and relatives to make sure they are safe and warm:

  • Are they warm enough?
  • Are they safe and well?
  • Do they have food and medicine so they can stay inside in very cold weather?

If you are worried about someone's welfare please contact the Adult Social Care Team on 01635 503050 or for advice you can also call Age UK advice line on 0800 678 1602. If someone is in immediate danger, please call 999.

 

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Prepare for when it snows

  • If you live on or near a hill, now is the time to buy your own supply of salt from local garden centres or builders' merchants
  • Where council salt bins are provided the salt is only intended to be used on the nearby public roads and footpaths
  • Stay up to date with the weather. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up to email or twitter weather alerts.

 

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Keeping chidren well in winter

  • A warm home is important for children's health and wellbeing
  • Heating homes to at least 18°C in winter poses minimal risk to the health of a sedentary person, wearing suitable clothing
  • Daytime recommendations are to heat your home to 18C. This threshold is particularly important for people 65 years and over or with pre-existing medical conditions. Having temperatures slightly above this threshold may be beneficial for health. The 18°C threshold also applies to healthy people (aged one to 64 years)*; if they are wearing appropriate clothing and are active, they may wish to heat their homes to slightly less than 18°C
  • Overnight recommendations are to maintain the 18°C threshold. This may be beneficial to protect the health of those 65 years and over or with pre-existing medical conditions, who should continue to use sufficient bedding, clothing and thermal blankets, or heating aids as appropriate. The 18°C threshold may be less important for healthy people (age one to 64)* if they have sufficient bedding, clothing and use thermal blankets or heating aids as appropriate
  • To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C
  • In drier winter air, children lose more water through their breath. Keep them drinking and try giving them warm drinks and soup
  • On dark mornings and evenings, it is recommended that children wear or carry something to make them more visible when making journeys. This should be something bright or fluorescent during the day and something reflective at dusk and in the dark
  • For tips on keeping younger children warm and safe this winter, please visit NHS.

 

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Self-care

Self-care is about things we can do to look after ourselves and help ourselves to stay healthy. There are lots of different things we can do which are part of self-care, from simple things like brushing our teeth regularly, healthy eating and being active, to knowing when to get extra help from a GP or other professional.

For more information you can access the West Berkshire Public Health website.

You can also find NHS Live Well advice here.

If you have an existing health condition or disability, now is a good time to ask your GP, workers in health and social care or other key workers advice on staying healthy in winter and the services available to you.

If you are 65 or over or in another of the groups more at risk, the NHS advises seeking support as soon as possible when feeling unwell. This may be from a pharmacist, GP or NHS 111 (www.111.nhs.uk or call: 111) for advice with an urgent medical problem.

 

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Stock up

Be prepared for common health problems by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. Here is a list of what is recommended to have stocked at home, recommended by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

  • Pain relief such as paracetemol, ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Antihistamines for dealing with allergies and insect bites
  • Oral rehydration salts to help restore your body's natural balance of fluid and minerals after a high temperature of diarrhoea. Anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Antacids for treating stomach aches, heartburn and indigestion
  • Sun lotion of at least factor 30 - even in winter you can get sunburnt
  • First aid kit with bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash

Get help with NHS prescriptions and health costs

You might be able to get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and help with other NHS costs.

Whether you get help depends on things like:

  • your age
  • your income
  • where you live
  • if you get certain benefits
  • if you're pregnant
  • if you have a medical condition

For more information click here.

Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)

If you're referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

Click here for more information.

 

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Mental Wellbeing

Information and support for mental health is available on West Berkshire Council website.

Talking Therapies is a friendly and approachable NHS service that treats common issues like depression, stress, anxiety or phobias. If you're aged 17 and over and living in Berkshire, you can get help to overcome the mental health and emotional wellbeing problems you're facing.

Please visit the website here for more information or call 0300 365 2000.

For more information on Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) visit the website here.

If you are over 60, for more information on mental health you can also visit the Age UK website or call the advice line 0800 678 1602.

 

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Support for young people

Time to Talk West Berkshire

Free confidential counselling for young people aged between 11 and 25. Call: 01635 760331 or visit www.t2twb.org

Emotional Health Triage

Free service for children and young people with emotional health difficulties. It is a gateway to different support options (not crisis).

Call: 01635 519018 Email: Emotional.Health.Triage@westberks.gov.uk or visit here www.westberks.gov.uk/emotional-health-academy

If you are 18 or under Childline can help you with things you are worried about and have lots of advice on keeping our bodies and our brains healthy.

The website is: www.childline.org.uk or you can call 0800 1111.

There is also a different website for children under 12: www.childline.org.uk/kids.

 

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Keep up to date

West Berkshire Council has an email subscription service to make it easier for residents to receive news and information about council services.

You can sign up to receive information on a range of topics - from general news to specific health and wellbeing updates, the environment, waste and recycling and business news.

Sign up here: www.westberks.gov.uk/newsletters

 

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