Advice on how to keep warm and well this winter

The colder winter months can be challenging for our health, especially for older people or people who are not fit and well. There are a number of things we can all do to keep ourselves and our families well this winter and help other people prepare for the cold weather:

  • Protect against flu by getting the flu vaccination, those over 65, pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3 and in reception class and school years 1 - 5 and people with long-term health conditions can receive this free from their GP or pharmacist;
  • It's important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors, so if possible keep homes at least 18°C (65°F);
  • At the first sign of illness, seek immediate advice and help from your pharmacist. Take prescribed medicines as directed and pick up any prescription medicines before Christmas Eve;
  • Keep an eye on people who are more vulnerable than you such as elderly neighbours, relations or people who are not in good health;
  • If you need help when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call the Single Point of Acess on 01472 256256 or visit www.nhs.uk.

Information and advice here from local GPs and health professionals on the things you can do.

Download a handy NHS leaflet - Here to help you stay well this winter.

Listen to GP Ekta Elson, from The Roxton Practice in Immingham talk about how we can get ready for a healthy winter and protect ourselves from the flu.

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Get ready for winter

Did you know the cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to illnesses that are more common in winter. Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, but there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

Make sure you get your flu jab

The flu virus is highly infectious and can be far more serious than you think. Flu can lead to serious health complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and it can be deadly for some people.

That’s why the flu jab is free to those people who are most at risk and the following people are offered the vaccination.

  • People aged 65 or over
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults and children with a long-term health condition
  • Children aged two or three, or in school years one - five will  be given the vaccination in the form of a nasal spray
  • And if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person you may also be eligible for a free flu jab and need to speak to your GP.

If you are in any of these groups then please see your GP and ask to have your vaccination.

Read more about the national flu vaccination programme with these NHS leaflets.
Protecting your child from flu - information for parents  
Flu Vaccination - Who should have it this winter and why - information for at risk groups

Also, don’t forget that if you’re aged 65 or over, you are eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia.
 

Feeling unwell?

Tim Cottingham, Pharmacist at Cottingham Pharmacy in Grimsby explains how your local pharmacy can help you with advice and medicines for self care to help you stay well throughout the winter.

If you have an existing health condition or are aged over 65 and you start to feel under the weather, please don’t wait – get advice from your nearest pharmacist.

Winter can make existing health problems worse. So if you feel like you’re coming down with something, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, don’t wait until it gets worse. Act quickly. The sooner you get advice from a pharmacist the better.

Pharmacists are fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action. See a pharmacist
as soon as you start to feel unwell as this can be the best and quickest way to help you recover and get back to normal. If you can’t get to a pharmacist yourself, ask someone to go for you or phone the pharmacy.

Is your medicine cabinet ready for the winter?

Most common winter ailments, such as a cold, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache), can’t be treated with antibiotics. The advice is to self care at home and seek advice from your local pharmacist on medicine and other treatments available to you over the counter.

The best thing to do is rest, drink plenty of fluids, have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up and talk to your pharmacist for advice on getting any pain relief you need such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Your pharmacist can also advise you on which medicines you should have in your cabinet, to help get you and your family through the winter season. Please take all prescribed medicines and antibitotics as directed.

Keep warm

It's really important to keep warm in winter, when you are both indoors and outdoors and look after others who are vulnerable, isolated and have health conditions.

Energy Officer, Debra Fox, from ENGIE explains here how we can all keep warm and well and heat our homes effectively. 

Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer.

Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights. Because breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.

Keep active when you’re indoors and try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

Wear several layers of light clothes. Because they trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

Make sure you’re receiving all the help you’re entitled to. Tips to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills at www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm 

Check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they’re operating properly.

Look out for other people

Remember that other people, like older neighbours, friends and family members or people who are not otherwise fit and healthy, may need a bit of extra help over the winter.

In the video above Martin Wakefield, from Care Plus Group highlights how it's important to be a Good Neighbour and look out for others around you. You can download the Good Neighbour card and encourage people in your area to help each other. 

Simple things you can do to help people who need a bit more support during the winter.

    

Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they’re feeling under the weather.

Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery and cold weather can stop people from getting out and about.

Make sure they’re stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days, in case they can’t go out.

If they do need to go out in the cold, encourage them to wear shoes with a good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect them from the cold air, and to reduce their risk of chest infections.

Make sure they get any prescription medicines before the bank holidays start on 24th December and if bad weather is forecast.

If you do need help over the holiday period when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call the Single Point of Access on 01472 256256 and speak to a call adviser who will be able to direct you to a local service that is open. You can also visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk