March 15th, 2016
On average there are around 25,000 excess winter deaths in England each year. There is strong evidence that some of these deaths are related to cold temperatures, as well as infectious diseases such as ‘flu.
‘Flu is a highly infectious disease that can spread rapidly, and the best way to protect yourself is to get a ‘flu vaccination. You may be entitled to get a free ‘flu vaccination. You may be entitled to a free injection if you are at risk of complications from ‘flu.
People who are entitled to free ‘flu jabs are over 65, aged 2-4, children in school years 1 and 2, are pregnant or have a serious medical condition such as chronic heart, lung, neurological, liver or kidney disease or diabetes.
There are ways you can reduce the risk of catching and spreading flu:
Fuel poverty is one of the biggest obstacles some people face when they want to keep warm in winter. In 2012-13 there were over two million households in England in fuel poverty. This is when a household is living below the poverty line and has higher than average fuel bills. You are most vulnerable to a cold related illness if you are over 65, on a low income, have a long term health condition and/or are disabled.
To help reduce your bills, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to make your home more energy efficient.. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. You can find out more by going online to the EST website or by calling 0300 123 1234 (9am -8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm Saturday).
If you have reduced mobilty, are over 65 or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. It’s a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can, but during the day make your living room slightly warmer.
It is very important that anybody in one of these groups does all that they can to keep warm at all times.
You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. The government provides a winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300 tax free to help you pay your heating bulls if you were born before July 5th 1953.
There is also a cold weather payment if you receive certain benefits. This is paid when your local temperature is recorded or forecast to be an average of 0C or below over seven consecutive days.
The payment is £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between November 1st and March 31st.
Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm, so you should try to make sure you have hot meals and drinks throughout the day and keep active if you can. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.
Wear warm clothes inside and out. Put on lots of thin layers – clothes made form cotton, wool and fleecy fibres are particularly good and help yo maintain body heat. Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when you are walking outside. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you have food available to eat at these times. Remember, tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day!
If you want any more advice, or to have a flu jab, please contact any branch of Newline Pharmacy and ask to speak to any member of staff.