Being cold isn’t just uncomfortable it can be bad for your health, so as a cold weather alert has been issued by the MET Office, healthcare leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are urging residents to keep warm, get vaccinated, plan ahead and look out for each other.
Government advice is to try and heat rooms to at least 18°C if possible, particularly if the people living in the house have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease. For anyone struggling to heat their home, help is available.
Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council all have a network of warm and welcome spaces that have been made available to people who need them, as well as online information and helplines for anyone needing help with the cost of living. And local NHS services are there for anyone who feels unwell – residents can get help from their pharmacist or GP. For urgent medical problems or if residents are unsure of what to do NHS 111 is always available online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
As well as keeping warm, leaders in public health are also advising residents to get their vaccinations for flu and Covid-19 and to look out for each other during these difficult times.
Michael Richardson, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality at the NHS Integrated Care Board for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, said:
“Staying warm is essential for your health, especially for those with underlying health conditions. If you, or someone you love, is struggling to keep warm or feeling unwell, please do ask for help. Your local NHS has a range of services to help you whether this is your GP, your pharmacy, NHS 111, mental health services or community service – we are here for you this winter.”
Christina Gray, Director for Communities and Public Health in Bristol, said:
“This year sees a very different challenge for us as the cost of living increases. With temperatures dropping and prices of fuel and food continuing to rise, this is going to be an extremely difficult time for households, communities and businesses across the country. A network of Welcoming Spaces has opened across the city in community centres, children’s centres and care homes where people can keep warm, access food and drink, socialise and access essential support related to the cost of living.”
South Gloucestershire Council’s new Director of Public Health Professor Sarah Weld urges everyone eligible to get their Covid-19 and flu vaccinations. She said:
“This winter could be very difficult with high numbers of flu and Covid-19 cases expected, plus the rising cost of keeping warm and well. You can help yourself now by getting vaccinated. Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from serious illness caused by flu and Covid-19 and will help protect others around you as well as the NHS from becoming overwhelmed this winter. You can find local vaccination details at grabajab.net.”
Matt Lenny, Director of Public Health and Regulatory Services for North Somerset Council, said:
“This time of year can be difficult, particularly for those who are vulnerable and isolated, so reaching out to a family member or neighbour can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. It’s important that, as well as looking after ourselves, we check in on others to ask if they need help to access shopping and medicines. Pulling together in tough times can make a real difference to all our lives.”
Top tips to get through the cold snap:
- Stay warm – heat rooms you are using to 18°C and keep the cold out by draft-proofing windows and doors, making sure you have loft and wall insulation, drawing your curtains and tucking them behind radiators and making sure radiators are not obstructed by furniture. If you are struggling to heat you home, warm spaces are available across our region and financial help is also available.
- Protect yourself – get your flu and Covid-19 booster vaccinations. Vaccination is free for most vulnerable groups, including those with long-term health conditions and children aged two to three. See grabajab.net for information.
- Know where to go for healthcare advice – see your local pharmacist or GP and contact NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do.
- Support each other – check on neighbours and family members
For more advice on how to keep well this winter, please see the NHS website where you will find lots of hints, tips and useful links.