Wednesday, 23 October 2013

10 tips for a warmer winter in Lancashire

As if it wasn't obvious from the pouring rain, leaves on the pavements (cleared up more slowly these days - have the Council cut back on street cleaning?) winter is on its way.

 Even though it is still relatively warm, a snap of bad weather could be just around the corner and it's a worrying fact that in Lancashire alone last year, over 500 people died because of winter-related illnesses. There were also more than 45,500 emergency hospital admissions.

These figures are much higher than the national average but there are ways people can help those they look after and Lancashire County Council is urging people to take simple steps to protect elderly friends and relatives and those they care for against the cold.

County Councillor Lorraine Beavers, lead member for health, said: "People are always going to be affected by illnesses in the winter months more than at other times of year, particularly if they are elderly or have other health concerns.

"However, the number of deaths related to winter illness and emergency hospital admissions are higher than the national average here in Lancashire. That's why we want to encourage people to do all they can to help friends, relatives, neighbours and those they care for to keep healthy in the winter months.

"There are simple things you can do to help. Keeping warm is the most important. People are also concerned about heating costs which is understandable, but there are steps you can take to save money on heating bills."

These 10 tips can help you keep yourself and the people you look after warm over the winter months:

Heating your home

As a general guide, living rooms need to be around 21 degrees C, and bedrooms around 19 degrees C. Of course, the huge increases in utility bills might make this impossible, but a change of government, but if you can afford to turn your central heating on then it's a good idea to check heating systems are working properly before the cold weather sets in.

Insulating your home

Loft insulation can save up to £180 and cavity wall insulation can save up to £140 a year on your bills. Grants are available from utility companies. Call your gas or electricity company or speak to Help Direct Lancashire to find out more.

Keep moving

It's important to keep moving, even if you're housebound. People who have difficulty walking can also exercise in a chair. (Of course, leaving your house in icy conditions may not be an option, especially as pavements have usually left as ice rinks in sub zero conditions by cash-strapped local councils. Buy salt and cat litter now to scatter on your front step).

Wrap up

Make sure you or the people you look after wrap up before going out in bad weather. Several layers are better than one thick layer.

Flu Jab

It's important for everyone in an 'at risk' group to get a flu jab – this could mean you as well as the people you look after. Check with your doctor if you need more information.

Eat for heat

Eat for warmth, regular hot meals and drinks provide both warmth and energy.

Look for financial help

Make sure you are receiving all the financial support you are entitled to, which will help towards heating bills. Contact Help Direct for more information.

Keep an eye on the weather

Make sure you check the weather forecast regularly.

Be prepared

It's a good idea to keep a range of basic food, including vegetables, in the freezer and cupboards – and don't forget to stock up on pet food!

Keep a couple of bottles of clean water in storage in case of frozen pipes. Ensure you have a good supply of all the medication you take each day plus basic cough and cold remedies. Keep a snow shovel, rock salt, torch, spare batteries and a first aid kit handy.

Keep in contact

Look out for friends, family relatives or neighbours who may be more vulnerable to the cold, especially if they have long-term medical conditions.

• For more information about preparing for the winter, call Help Direct on 0303 333 1111

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