What can you do to keep warm and well
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.
Keep your house at a healthy temperature. For a healthy adult your main living room should be between 18-21°C (64-70F), this recommendation is slightly warmer for elderly people at temperatures around 21°C (70F). Other areas of the house should be kept at a minimum of 16°C (61F). 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 them 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 their befriending service to have someone over for a hot drink and a chat.
Wear several layers of clothes. 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
Keep active. Move around at least once every hour and avoid sitting down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm
Get your jabs. If you are over 65, or have longstanding health problems make sure you get a flu jab every year to protect you from flu. You should also have the pneumococcal jab, which 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 so that you will reduce the risk of being a flu carrier and infecting them.
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.
Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and that 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.
Any faulty gas appliance in your home poses a potential risk of producing highly poisonous carbon monoxide gas. It is important to have all your gas appliances checked once a year by Gas Safe registered engineer. A free gas safety check is currently available to eligible Barnet residents living in privately owned properties. Please call 0208 359 7441 or email Winterwell@barnet.gov.uk to find out more information.
Call National Grid Gas Emergencies line straight away on 0800 111 999 (this is a 24 hour emergency line). Open your windows and doors to let air in, make sure all gas appliances are turned off, and turn the gas off at the mains if possible. Do not turn lights on or off and avoid using other electrical switches and appliances. Do not smoke, light a match or any other naked flame. Do not try and investigate the problem or attempt to fix a leak or a faulty appliance.
Get help with your energy bills and staying warm this winter
Does one of the following apply to you?
- Over 60
- Have a long term condition or disability
- Have young children
- On low income
And do any of the following apply?
- You struggle to afford heating bills resulting in turning the heating off
- You have no heating or it doesn’t work
- Your home is drafty
- You stay in bed to keep warm
You may be eligible for assistance from the council, government or through the Energy Company Obligation scheme. Please contact SHINE on 0300 555 0195 for further information and advice.
If you rent your home and there's a serious defect which has not been dealt with by the landlord, please call private sector housing on 020 8359 7995.
You can get advice on financial hardships and many other topics from the Citizens Advice Bureau. Additionally Charis are able to offer relief and schemes to support those who are struggling financially. To see if you are able to apply visit Charis.
Sign up to the BLES (Big London Energy Switch). The BLES is a price drop competition amongst energy companies. Whoever drops their price the lowest gets their offer sent out to all the households who signed up to the switch. There is no obligation for these households to switch energy company (BLES) but if the offer is cheaper than their current tariff, it is easy and simple to do. It costs nothing to switch.
Barnet Homes assistance
If you are a Barnet Homes tenant and you have an issue with your heating, please call Barnet Homes on 080 0389 5225 or email Talk2Us@barnethomes.org
Small household repairs
If you're over 60 and need small household repairs like draught excluders, call Age UK Handy Person Scheme on 020 8150 0963.
Priority services registers
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 ages, young or old. To see if your provider will facilitate you assistance in an outage, follow the relevant links below or contact them.
- UK Power Networks
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- e.on (Caring Energy) - Tel: 0800 096 3080
- Scottish Power - Tel: 0800 027 1122
- Thames Water
- Affinity Water
- Ovo Energy
- Check the Met Office weather forecast for any cold weather health warnings.
- Dial-ride from Transport For London has a free service for elderly and disabled residents living within Barnet. To see if you qualify click here 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.
- Are you and your family struggling to afford food, or having to choose between "heating or eating" ? Or are you able to offer assistance or donations? Chipping Barnet’s food bank, a part of Trussel Trust helps to feed residents in need. For enquiries call: 07716890 535.
The British Red Cross
The British Red Cross is one of the charities which, in the case of an emergency will be there to offer assistance to those who are signed up to the priority services register.
Barnet Council is working in partnership with The British Red Cross to deliver Winter Warm Packs and energy efficiency measures to the most vulnerable residents who are coming home from hospital using The British Red Cross’ Home from Hospital Service.
These packs contain hats, gloves, thermos cups, blankets, hot water bottles, socks, thermometers and useful information. These can offer immediate protection against hypothermia and other detriments to health caused by excess cold.
To learn more about this service contact The British Red Cross.
Barnet & Harrow’s cleaner air project
Do you have COPD, asthma, emphysema, heart disease, any vulnerability to poor air quality, or are you just interested in the air you breathe and how to improve it? Have a look at Barnet & Harrow’s cleaner air project website.
Airtext will alert you when there are high levels of pollution outside or if there is extreme weather in your area and tell you how to minimise the risks associated. Sign up for free airTEXT alerts and forecasts here.