WINTER: Get Prepared

Age UK have just published a great new guide called “Winter Wrapped Up” which is full of tips to get your home ready for the cold weather and reduce your risk of common health problems.

  • Below is a excerpt from it – to download the full guide, visit the AGE UK website
  • Our own guide to coping with winter is also a useful source of information

Preparing for winter

Getting ready for the cold weather – which can start as early as October – means that you’re more likely to keep warm and well. Here are some things you can do to stay safe and
ward off the winter chills:

  • Get your heating system serviced every year to ensure it’s running safely and efficiently. Gas heating must be serviced by a qualified Gas Safe-registered engineer. If you are a tenant, your landlord should check your gas heating system and appliances for safety at least once a year. Never block air vents and if you have wood-burning, coal or gas heaters make sure there’s adequate ventilation.
  • See Age UK’s free guide Save energy, pay less for tips on insulating and draught-proofing your home. You could also check with your energy supplier to see whether they have
    further advice to help you prepare for winter.
  • Make sure you know where your main stopcock is and check that it’s easy to turn. If it’s jammed, you may need to replace it. If water pipes freeze they can burst, so you need
    to be able to turn off the water at the main stopcock.
  • Have your electric blanket serviced at least every three years.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm is working. You can ask your local fire service to check your home for fire safety. It’s free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted. If
    you are a private tenant, your landlord must install smoke alarms for you.
  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas or solid-fuel burning appliance. If you are a private tenant your landlord should install carbon monoxide
    alarms for you.
  • Ask your family or friends if they could call or visit you more often if there’s an extended period of cold weather.
  • Keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths in icy weather. Some councils provide free bags of the mix or try a local DIY store.
  • If the area you live in is liable to floods, sign up for free flood warnings from Floodline (see page 25 of the full guide – link above). Find out if there is a community flood group in your area by contacting the National Flood Forum (see page 25).
  • Consider fitting a grab rail if you have steps at your front or back door. Ask your local Age UK for more information.
  • Keep simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies in the house. Your pharmacist can make suggestions and advise you how to manage minor illnesses.
  • Make sure you have a yearly flu jab. It’s free if you’re over 65, or if you’re a carer or have certain long-term conditions.
  • Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast. Ask your local pharmacy if it offers a prescription pick-up and delivery service.
  • Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door.
  • Keep a torch handy in case you lose power and keep your radio, mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged, so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity.
  • If you’re worried about walking your dog in icy weather, contact The Cinnamon Trust (see full guide, page 24). They may be able to match you with a dog-walking volunteer in your area.
  • Write down emergency numbers, such as utility companies, and keep this by your phone.
  • Make sure you claim all the financial support you can to help with heating bills. Your local Age UK can advise you.

Useful Winter Contacts

Age UK
provide advice and information for people in later life through our Age UK Advice line‚ publications and online. Age UK Advice: 0800 169 65 65 Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 7pm.

Charis Grants
Directs people to grants to clear utility debts owed to certain
energy providers.
Tel: 01733 421 021 –

Cinnamon Trust
Charity for older people and their pets. They have volunteers who may be able to walk your dog for you in icy conditions.
Tel: 01736 757 900 –

Citizens Advice Consumer Service
A consumer advice and complaints service.
Tel: 0345 404 0506 –

Energy Saving Trust
Provides free advice on saving energy.
Tel: 0300 123 1234 –

Free 24-hour service that provides flood warnings by phone, text or email.
Tel: 0345 988 1188

Gas Safe Register
You can check if an engineer is on the register by visiting the website.
Tel: 0800 408 5500 If you suspect a gas leak, call 0800 111 999
The government website of services and information that includes advice on taking care of yourself in winter.

National Flood Forum
Offers support and representation to communities and individuals at risk of flooding.
Tel: 01299 403055

NHS 111
Free NHS 24-hour helpline for advice on urgent but non-life threatening symptoms.
Tel: 111 –

NHS Choices
Provides web-based information about NHS services, healthy living and health conditions.

Winter Fuel Payment helpline
Tel: 03459 15 15 15

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