With cold and wintry weather predicted over the next few days, families across Kent are being urged to follow a few simple measures to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.
Prolonged cold weather can be a risk for anyone although vulnerable people, including the elderly and children under five, are particularly at risk and common sense advice can help in severe weather, both at home or out and about.
Graham Gibbens, KCC Cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We appreciate that most people will be able to look after themselves but some members of the community need help. Basic advice can help everyone prepare, such as being ready to stay indoors, making sure there is enough food and medicine at home and ordering repeat prescriptions in plenty of time. Having a family member, friend or neighbour who can help out can be vital in cold weather – helping with anything from putting the bin out to collecting a prescription or doing some grocery shopping. Please be a good neighbour and rally round, take time to care for yourself, your family and others.”
Simple tips such as making regular hot drinks and wearing several thin layers of clothes rather than one thick one can help to keep your body warm.
Andrew Scott-Clark, KCC Director of Public Health, said: “Exposure to the cold increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks – even a short time in the cold, outdoors or indoors, can have a lasting effect. People should wrap up warm to protect themselves and help those who may have difficulty following the basic advice.”
- Regular hot meals and drinks can help keep your body warm.
- Keep your home heated – set the heating to the right temperature (18-21C).
- If trying to save fuel, it is advisable to heat the living room during the day, the bathroom when needed and the bedroom, just before going to bed.
- Get the flu vaccine to protect yourself and others. This is free for anyone over 65, pregnant women, those with long term conditions, and children aged two to four. Details are available at GP surgeries or pharmacies and the vaccine is free for some people.
- Order repeat prescriptions in good time to make sure you have enough supply of any medicines you use.
- Have your heating and cooking appliances checked regularly and make sure the chimney has been swept recently.
If you need to go out:
- Wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles.
- Make sure you are not caught out by snow and ice; stay tuned to the weather forecast and plan ahead with food supplies.
- Get up-to-date traffic information at kenttraffic.info
- In periods of severe weather such as snow and ice, do not travel unless necessary.
More information is available about how to keep yourself and others safe during cold weather through www.kent.gov.uk/winterhealth and www.nhs.uk/Livewell/winterhealth/Pages/Verycoldweather.aspx
People are urged not to go to A&E or call 999 unless it’s an emergency. If you are in any doubt, NHS111 can help you get the right treatment.
The free web app Health Help Now can be used to check symptoms or to find out when and where local services are open. It can also be downloaded to mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers from www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net
Age UK is working hard to raise awareness of the devastating impact that the cold can have on older people who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures. Cold temperatures not only raise blood pressure which puts people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, they also increase the likelihood and severity of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems. Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can order a free copy of the ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guide which contains a free thermometer and provides tips on staying warm in winter. Alternatively they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide and find out where their local Age UK office or shop is.
Citizens Advice will be running one-to-one energy advice sessions (how to save on your energy bills, including how to switch supplier) from October to March. More information at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/