20 November 2015

Vulnerable residents urged to take care as the temperature falls this weekend

Brighton & Hove’s vulnerable residents are being urged to take a range of precautions this weekend as temperatures are predicted to fall.

On average there are around 25,000 excess winter deaths each year in England and there is strong evidence that some of these winter deaths are indeed 'extra' and are related to cold temperatures as well as infectious diseases such as flu.

In the winter of 2012-13 it is estimated that there were around 130 excess winter deaths in Brighton & Hove. This is a similar rate to both the South East and England.

According to 2013 estimates, around 14,800 households (11.9%) in Brighton & Hove were fuel poor. This is higher than both the South East (8.1%) and England (10.4%)

Dr Tom Scanlon, Director of Public Health at Brighton & Hove City Council, said:

“We know that cold outdoor temperatures, even as high as 4-8°C, can negatively affect your health - especially if you are aged over 65 or under 5, have a long term health condition or disability, or are pregnant. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.”

 

Keeping warm during the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.  The chances of these problems are higher if you're vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

 

you're aged over 65
you are under the age of 5
you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
you are pregnant
you are disabled

 

Follow these top tips to keep warm while the weather is cold:

 

Keep your home warm

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can. During the day you may prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.

Keep your bedroom window closed at night. Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.
You can use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep heat inside your rooms
Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture or curtains

 

Eat well

Food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.

 
Stay active

We all know that exercise is good for your overall health - and it can keep you warm in winter. If possible, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plan.

 
Wear warm clothes

Wrap up warm, inside and out. Wear lots of thin layers - clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat.
Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when walking outside.
If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.

 
Help your neighbours in winter

Check on older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses to make sure they are safe, warm and well. Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather.

 

If you're worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66..

 
How to fight flu

The flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.

 

You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:

are 65 years of age or over
are pregnant
have certain medical conditions
are very overweight
are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
are a front-line health and social care worker. It is your employer's responsibility to arrange vaccination for you

 

Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination. If you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it.

 
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NOTES TO EDITORS
 
Cold weather benefits

You may also be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.

 
Winter Fuel Payment

A Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 tax-free is available to help you pay your heating bills if you were born on or before July 5 1953.

 
Cold Weather Payment

Cold Weather Payment may be available to you if you receive certain benefits. Payments are made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of 0C or below over seven consecutive days. You'll get a payment of £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 2015 and March 31 2016.

 
How to reduce your energy bills

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to reduce bills and make your home more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. Find out more online from the EST website or call 0300 123 1234 (9am-8pm Monday to Friday and 10am-2pm Saturday).