Winter officially began yesterday on 21st December with the Winter Solstice but this week is quite mild compared with the harsh frosts of the last two weeks. For the past few years, temperatures during these weeks have dropped to well below freezing.
With the rising cost of energy, more and more people are turning to creative methods to keep warm, stoking up wood-burning stoves and increasing the risk of scalds and burns. With this in mind, we would like to offer some guidance regarding keeping warm and safe this winter, in this week's blog.
Our Top Tips during this Cold Winter
- Are you eligible for the flu jab? Simply put, flu is dangerous and much more serious than a common cold, for many, it can lead to a hospital stay and for some it can be fatal. People over 50, or people with existing medical conditions can get this for free.
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:
- are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis(i)
- Be Vigilant: Check the weather forecast regularly and be aware when the more severe cold spells are coming.
- Make kinetic energy: By moving around as this will help to keep you warm. If you are able, try to move around and not sit for more than one hour. Get up and walk around, make a drink, stretch. If walking is a problem try clapping your hands, moving your arms and legs whilst sitting or wiggling your fingers and toes.
- Drink plenty of hot drinks: To help keep costs down, only boil enough water for what you need, or alternatively, when you boil the kettle first thing in the morning, fill a flask too. It helps to reduce energy usage, and once you are snuggled on the settee, there's no reason to disturb your pile of blankets if your flask is at hand. Please be careful with hot water. If flask flavoured drinks are not your thing, use a teapot with a cosy where possible for that second and third cuppa.
- Make at least one hot meal a day: This doesn't have to be fine dining as a tin of soup warms you through and fills your stomach for minimal cost. Be savvy when shopping, many superstores reduce their fresh produce around 6-7pm every evening. You can pick up diced carrot and swede, or fresh mushrooms and tomatoes all at their sell by date, which is perfect for cooking down into a pan of homemade soup. It's quick and easy and if you make plenty, there's enough for 2-3 days. If you add chopped onions and some dried herbs, it's cost effective, perfectly edible and the preparation produces plenty of kinetic energy for warmth.
- The ideal room temperature: Is between 18–21ºC. The temperature shouldn't be below 9ºC or above 24ºC for the elderly and vulnerable as this can have major health risks such as hypothermia, strokes and heart attacks(ii).
- Layer up: Wear multiple layers of thinner clothing rather than one thick layer; this will help to trap the heat against your skin and keep you warm. Where possible, ensure you wear socks and slippers, socks can also be worn in bed to maintain your body temperature. Woolly hats, gloves and scarves are great too, although we advise you not to wear these indoors if you are venturing outside later in the same day.
- Blankets are your new best friend: Cover yourself with a blanket or shawl if you are sitting for long periods, this will help keep you warm. If you are able, lift your feet off the ground as the air is colder near the floor.
- Cuddle up: Sitting close to someone else helps share the warmth. It's surprising how much heat a body can give off, and by sharing a blanket or two, the heat can be trapped underneath and help to warm cold legs and hands. For those able, visit your elderly friends and relatives and cuddle with them, hold their hands, take a flask of hot drinks (saves putting their kettle on) and insist they remain seated and warm when you leave.
- Tuck curtains behind radiators: Closing the curtains as it starts to get dark, not only keeps away prying eyes, but it helps to warm up the room. Most British houses have their radiators beneath a window, therefore tucking the curtains behind, keeps the cold glass covered and the heat from the radiator is allowed to warm the room. Make sure to close the bedroom curtains and bedroom doors too.
- Hot water bottles: If you are boiling the kettle and have excess hot water, don't waste it, fill a hot water bottle to snuggle with on the settee, or better still, pop under your quilt cover if it's close to bedtime. Be very careful whilst you poor in the hot water. Unprotected/uncovered hot water bottles can also be extremely hot.
- Open the oven door: If you are cooking a meal, when you have finished plating the meal, and once the oven has been turned off, open the oven door to disperse the heat throughout the room. It's only going to go to waste as the oven cools down.
As the extreme cold weather continues, the potential for scalds and burns increases, with children and the elderly most at risk. Each year, thousands of people are admitted to hospitals with burns sustained in the home or workplace during the winter months. In many cases, the burns can leave behind lasting scars. To aid with burn scarring, Jobskin® has developed a wide range of products designed to help with scar management where the scar has been sustained due to a scald or burn.
(i) Source: Flu Vaccine . [online]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/ [Accessed 22 December 2022].
(ii) What's the ideal home temperature? . [online]. Available from: https://www.britishgas.co.uk/the-source/no-place-like-home/whats-the-ideal-home-temperature.html#:~:text=The%20Energy%20Saving%20Trust%20recommends,the%20ideal%20temperature%20for%20sleeping [Accessed 22 December 2022]