Somerset County Council’s Public Health team is urging everyone to think ahead and consider others, such as neighbours and close relatives, and put things in place now to protect their health.
Cold weather brings with it a number of health risks, in particular it can increase blood pressure and make fighting infection more difficult, especially among older adults and other vulnerable groups.
Importantly, we know that most winter-related illnesses in England occur at temperatures that can appear to be quite mild and well before we might see snow or ice – at between 4°C–8°C.
It can make a huge difference if you check whether relations, neighbours or others you care for are able to keep their homes warm early in the cold weather season and keep checking even when temperatures remain mild.
Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of Public Health, said: “Bad weather in the winter months can aggravate existing health problems, make you more vulnerable to illness, make it easier to have accidents like slips and falls and more difficult to get out and about to collect medicines or shop for food, especially for the elderly or those with underlining conditions.
“It is important to stay healthy, especially this year, to give us the best chance against covid and other winter viruses such as the flu. We have prepared some tips that can help better prepare people in our community for the change in season and to stay well.”
- Make sure you get your covid vaccine including the booster – it is the best defence against the virus and will help prevent you from becoming seriously ill with it.
- If you are entitled to the free flu vaccination, then book it as soon as possible – it can be booked quickly and easily by contacting your GP or local pharmacy.
- Keep your home ventilated to let the virus out, especially when you have guests and continue to follow the other guidance to protect yourself from covid – wash your hands regularly, wear a face mask in public places and socially distance.
- It is important to keep warm in winter, so heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.
- Call NHS 111 if you need medical help but it’s not life threatening, or you are not sure where to go for help
- Eat a wide range of vegetables, fruit (aim for between 5 and 7 portions) protein and 2 portions of fish (1 oily)
- Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated – the government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses every day.
- Keep active – regular exercise is important for your health and wellbeing – you don’t have to run a marathon, short walks can help you keep well
- Is your medicine cabinet ready for winter? Your pharmacist can advise you on which medicines you should have in your cabinet to help you and your family through winter.
- To help combat loneliness try to get outdoors or involve yourself with some social activities. Look to see what events are on at your local community centre, visit the theatre, join a group of like-minded individuals, or take up a new hobby. Even walking to the shops or walking around a park will bring you into contact with people and just saying ‘hello’ and getting a kind word back in return will boost your confidence. If it is icy or has been snowing, make sure you have suitable footwear and someone to assist you if required.