Stay well this winter
Cold weather can lead to serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes or pneumonia especially if you are aged 65 or older or if you have a long term health condition. Keeping warm, at home or while you are out and about, will help you to stay well during cold winter months.
Here are some simple things you can do to keep warm, stay healthy and make the best use of your heating at home.
If you are 50 or over, or have longstanding health problems, make sure you get your annual flu jab and seasonal COVID-19 booster to protect you from serious illness. You should also have the pneumococcal jab if you are 65 and over. The vaccine is given once and protects you against infections caused by the pneumococcus bug such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia.
If you regularly come into contact with someone who is vulnerable, it is sensible to get a flu jab and COVID-19 booster so that you will reduce the risk of being a carrier and infecting them.
Find out more about winter vaccinations
As well as getting vaccinated there are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading viruses, especially during the winter:
- Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside if you can
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or flu, try to avoid contact with others, especially vulnerable people, until you feel better.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
What you can do to keep warm and well
Keep your house at a healthy temperature
For the elderly and those who have health conditions, the recommendation is to heat your home to at least 18 C. For all other adults, you can safely have your home cooler than 18 C, as long as you’re comfortable. Babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16 C and 20 C
You can also use a hot water bottle, or layers of blankets to keep warm while you're in bed.
Keep all doors shut to prevent draughts and pull your curtains at dusk to keep the heat inside. If your radiator is in front of the window, tuck your curtains behind it. Have regular hot drinks and soups. Why not to visit one of the lunch clubs and social groups in Barnet. Or if you can't get out, use the befriending service to have someone over for a hot drink and a chat.
Wear several layers of clothing. Several layers are better than one thick layer, as warmth from your body is trapped between layers. Always wear hats, gloves and scarves. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or breathing problems.
This winter, local community organisations and businesses have come together to provide warm community spaces for anyone in the borough to stay warm and connect with others so you can visit a warm space.
In the winter months, getting active outdoors can be less appealing. There are a range of resources to help you stay active from walking trails to fitness and exercise classes for all ages. Find out more on Your Health Barnet website
Alternatively, if you would rather exercise at home, or getting out and about is difficult for you, why not try out the exercises in the Fit and Active Barnet hub
Eating regular hot meals will allow your body to stay warm as the weather gets colder. For tips on eating a healthy, balanced diet visit Move more and eat well page.
If you and your family are struggling to afford food, or having to choose between "heating or eating", help is available. Visit help with food to find out about Barnet’s network of food banks and other support available to help feed residents in need.
Mental Health Support
Winter can be a difficult time, and, with the rising cost of living, this can impact your mental health. If you are feeling down or out of sorts, chat to someone or contact your GP. You can also visit our Mental Health and wellbeing services, all services are free.
Looking out for others
Older neighbours, friends and family members, may need some extra support over the winter. There are simple things you can do to help people who need support:
- Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they're feeling unwell.
- Make sure they’re stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days, in case they cannot go out.
- Make sure they get any prescription medicines before the holiday period starts and if bad weather is forecast.
- If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, email email@example.com or visit our Adult Social Care contact information page for more information
Get advice if you feel unwell
It’s important to seek medical help if you feel unwell. You can get help and advice from:
Your local pharmacist can provide advice and over the counter medicine for a range of minor illnesses such as coughs colds, sore throats and general aches and pains. If symptoms suggest it's something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example, they will tell you if you need to see a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.
you may be able to speak to a GP online or over the phone or go in for an appointment if they think you need to. Evening and weekend appointments are available in your local area
You can call NHS 111 or visit the NHS website for details of local services if you have an urgent medical problem and you are unsure what to do. If you have a medical emergency (difficulty breathing, chest pain or an accident), call 999 or visit your nearest accident and emergency department.
- Check your medicine cabinet. Be prepared this winter and if you can, have over the counter medicines at home. This can help to treat minor injuries and illnesses at home, without the need to see a GP or visit the hospital.
- If you take medicine regularly, make sure you get any prescription medicines before a holiday period starts and if bad weather is forecast.
- If you or vulnerable neighbours and relatives need help over a holiday period when the GP surgery or pharmacy is closed or they're not sure what to do, go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
Take care outside
Take extra care in icy conditions if you go out. Wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. The Met Office advises putting grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to minimise the risk of slipping.
You should also wait until the roads have been gritted if you're travelling by car. The Highways Agency offers useful advice on travelling in snow and freezing conditions.
Black ice on pavements or roads might not be visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.
If you have a neighbour who would struggle to clear their path offer to help them. Barnet Council encourages residents to form partnerships to grit their footways in these conditions. Follow our advice for clearing snow and ice on public footways.
Keep your home healthy
Damp and mould can cause serious health problems, especially for people with respiratory conditions, allergies or a weakened immune system. They can also damage your property and belongings. Therefore, it is important to deal with damp and mould as soon as possible, and to take steps to prevent them from occurring or recurring. Read more about how you can keep your home damp-free this winter
Get help with your energy bills and energy efficiency
Visit our Cost of living pages for help with paying your bills, debt and money advice and support to access any benefits you are eligible for.
There is also some specific winter related support available:
Priority services register
In the event of a gas, water or electricity cut, if you have a particular vulnerability, you can register on a priority services register. This means you go on record as needing additional assistance. Each provider has a slightly different set of requirements to qualify for their register, but these are usually vulnerabilities such as disabilities and old or young age.
To see if your provider will facilitate you assistance in an outage, visit their websites or contact them:
- UK Power Networks
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- e.on (Caring Energy) Telephone: 0800 096 3080
- SSE Power Cut advice leaflet
- Scottish Power Telephone: 0800 027 1122
- Thames Water
- Affinity Water
- Ovo Energy
- Octopus Energy
- Check the Met Office weather forecast for any cold weather health warnings.
- Dial a ride from Transport For London has a free service for elderly and disabled residents living within Barnet. Find out if you qualify for Dial a ride or call 034 3222 7777
- Check out what’s on in the borough. This could be from a coffee morning or the casserole club, to tai chi or IT classes. For more information on what activities and events are currently available please visit the Age UK Barnet website.
- Visit How to stay well in winter for more information