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Keep warm, keep well this winter

Residents in Wolverhampton are being urged to keep warm and well as the city braces itself for the arrival of winter and to sign a pledge to look in on elderly friends and neighbours.

It has been estimated that for every degree change in the average weather temperature, there is a rise or fall in the number of deaths by 8,000 nationally and there were 178 excess winter deaths in Wolverhampton in 2011 due to the cold conditions.

Of these excess winter deaths, a third are attributable to respiratory disease and over half to cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes.

Slips and trips on icy ground can also cause fractured and broken bones which in turn lead to further complications such as blood clots and pressure sores.

One of the best ways of keeping well during winter is to stay warm. Wolverhampton City Council is providing 5 top tips to residents which could help them stay warmer and maintain good health over the coming weeks:

  • Heat your home well by setting your heating to the right temperature (between 18 to 21º C) you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills. If you feel cold at night, use a hot water bottle or electric blanket  but never use both together. It is especially important if you're at home all day.
  • There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. People are advised to check out what benefits they may be entitled to by visiting Heating and Housing Benefits.
  • Eat well and take plenty of fluids - food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.
  • Get a flu jab - you can get free flu jabs to protect against seasonal flu from your GP if you are over 65, pregnant, or have a long term condition.
  • Look after yourself and others - on cold days avoid going outside where possible. If you do need to go out, wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well.

Ros Jervis, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "Encouraging people to keep warm and healthy during the winter is one of our key priorities, particularly for older residents and those that spend all day at home.

"The 5 top tips show that it only takes a few simple measures to protect yourself and your family from winter related illnesses and incidents.

"I'd also urge people to sign the national NHS 'Winter Friends' pledge to look in on elderly or vulnerable friends and neighbours to check they're warm and well over winter."

There are 2 free online booklets full of hints and tips - Age UK's Winter Wrapped Up! And Department of Health's Keep Warm Keep Well - both of which are available at .

People can sign the NHS Winter Friends pledge here: NHS Choices - Winter Friends Pledge.

Meanwhile, the council is offering 2 other services designed to help people this winter.

Affordable Warmth Grants are available to certain low income, vulnerable households and can be used to install heating and insulation measures at no cost to the occupier.

To be considered for a grant, residents must be owner occupiers, on certain means tested benefits and either over the age of 65 or suffer from a serious cold or damp related illness. Those who live in the private rented sector will be considered for insulation measures only.

To find out more, please call Wolverhampton City Council on 01902 551155 or email energy.efficiency@wolverhampton.gov.uk.

In addition, there is also the handyperson service available to owner occupiers aged 60 or over or who are registered disabled and on income related benefits. The handyperson can help out with minor repairs and improve the safety and security of their properties. For more details, people should call 01902 551155.

  • released: Monday 16 December, 2013