Keeping safe, warm and well over winter

Author: Jennifer Dawson


Barnet Council and its Public Health partners are calling on residents to help make sure elderly and vulnerable Barnet neighbours stay safe, warm and well this winter.

Residents can play their part by making sure older neighbours are warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. Keeping warm over winter helps prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems like pneumonia.

Barnet’s public health team has issued some top tips for keeping warm this winter:

  •  Keep your house at a healthy temperature. For a healthy adult the 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)
  • Use a hot-water bottle or layers of blankets to keep warm while you're in bed. When room temperatures fall below 16°C there is an increased risk of chest infections. Below 12°C and a person’s arteries will narrow, raising blood pressure and dramatically increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • 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 curtains behind it
  • Have regular hot drinks and soups. Alternatively head to one of Age UK Barnet's coffee mornings, or use their befriending service to have someone over for a hot drink and a chat. Find out what is on by calling 020 8203 5040
  • Wear several layers of clothes, as doing so means warmth from your body is trapped between layers. In addition, always wear hats, gloves and scarves
  • Stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or breathing problems
  • Keep active by moving around at least once every hour and avoiding sitting down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm

Cold weather can stiffen joints and worsen arthritis, increasing the risk of falls. Residents are also asked to consider whether they have any family or neighbours who may benefit from the Barnet Falls Prevention Service. The free 12 week programme offers support to those who may be at risk of falling.

Barnet Council’s Social Care Direct is able to offer assistance to vulnerable Barnet Residents in an emergency situation. Where there is someone vulnerable in a household and emergency heating measures are required, Barnet residents should call social care direct on 020 8359 5000 or 020 8359 2000 in an out of hours situation.

Councillor Helena Hart, Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Even though the weather is unlikely to be as severe as it has been in previous years, we’re still asking residents to look out for their elderly neighbours. Simple checks such as making sure they have enough to eat can make the world of difference.

“The council will still have staff working over the Christmas period to ensure that where assistance is required, we’re able to provide it. Where residents are concerned about elderly neighbours or neighbours with long term health conditions, we’d encourage them to get in touch.”

As well as staying warm, residents are encouraged to take simple steps to stay safe too.  Most burglaries in Barnet take place during the working day, between 8am-7pm. The majority of burgled homes in Barnet have been entered through the front door, but simple steps can make homes less attractive to a burglar:

  • Close and lock all your doors and windows – police know that as many burglars enter through a window as through a door
  • Double-lock all doors – shutting isn’t the same as locking and won’t keep burglars out
  • As the nights are getting longer, leave a light on when the streetlights come on to keep burglars in the dark
  • Always keep valuables, like laptops and tablets, out of sight and never leave them near a door, letterbox or window
  • Avoid leaving empty boxes outside your home until your waste collection day as this advertises you have new equipment inside

Inspector Adrian Needley of Barnet Police added: “We’re working hard to stop criminals and help Londoners keep themselves and their property safe. You can be a hero and help to stop crime before it happens by following our simple crime prevention steps.

“Should resident require any further information or advice, please contact your local neighbourhood police officers.”

For more information about keeping warm over winter, or to refer someone you’re concerned about, visit: