Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.
The chances of these problems are higher if you’re vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:
- you’re over 60
- you’re on a low income (so can’t afford heating)
- you have a long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease
- you are disabled
Every winter in the UK, 25,000-30,000 deaths are linked to the cold weather. Currently, approximately four million households in the UK are in fuel poverty. This is when a household spends more than 10% of its income to keep warm.
The government’s advice on staying warm over the winter aims to reduce cold-related illness and deaths. Key tips include:
- Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (64-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you’re in bed.
- Wrap up warm, inside and out. Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer. Don’t forget to wear hats, gloves and scarves. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
- Keep active. Move around at least once an hour and don’t sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm.
- Look out for elderly friends and neighbours. Check they’re safe and well through the winter. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. If you are worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council or ring the Age UK helpline on 0800 00 99 66 .