Winter Safety – Top Health Tips

1.     Flu and the Flu vaccine

2.     Keep Warm, Keep Well

3.     Staying well in very cold weather

4.     Coping with the common winter illnesses

Flu and the Flu Vaccine

Flu is a serious illness which spreads easily and could put you in hospital.

For most healthy people, having the flu usually means spending a few days in bed with fever, chills, headaches and aches and pains in the joints. However, people who are more susceptible to the effects of flu can end up with serious infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.

The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu vaccine. This gives good protection against the flu and lasts for 1 year. 

NHS choices: Flu vaccination information:

The following people are eligible to have the flu jab:

  • All children aged two to eight (but not 9 years and older) on 31 August 2017- Children aged 2 and 3 yrs. offered in GP practice and school years reception, 1,2 3 and 4 delivered via school programme
  • All primary school aged children in former primary school pilot areas (with LAIV)
  • Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
  • Pregnant women
  • Those aged 65 years and over
  • Those in long-stay residential care homes
  • Carers
  • Morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and over)
  • Frontline health and social care workers (vaccination provided by their employer)

If you’re eligible make sure you take up the offer from your pharmacy or school for the free flu vaccine and make sure you know the truth behind the 10 Myths about the flu vaccine!

Pregnant women

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of complications and potential harmful consequences for both you and your baby if you catch the flu e.g. premature birth.

Carers - Top five flu facts for carers:

If you are the main carer for someone with a long-term health condition or disability, you are eligible for a FREE flu vaccination You can have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery or a participating pharmacy As long as you’re a carer, there is no age restriction for having this vaccine
You cannot catch flu from the vaccine – it doesn’t contain any live viruses Get vaccinated every winter to make sure you are protected against new flu viruses

Keep Warm, Keep Well

Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. With 24,000 older people dying in England and Wales as a result of cold weather every winter, it is vital that we’re all aware of the effects of cold weather on health.

One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm. Keeping warm can prevent colds, flu and more serious illness such as pneumonia and depression.

The chances of developing these problems are higher if you are vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of:

  • Being over 65
  • Being on a low income (can’t afford heating)
  • Having a long term health condition – heart, lung or kidney disease
  • You are disabled

stay well this winter logo The NHS Choices website has lots of information on winter health and the importance of staying warm

Keeping your home warm

You should heat your home to at least 18c if you are over 65, have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, or have reduced mobility. You should also wear layers of clothes to stay warm.

More information from Public Health England’s leaflet ‘Keep Well Keep Warm’ click here

Cold weather support available: B&NES Energy at Home Service

You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Speak to a friendly advisor at  B&NES energy at home advice service to find out more.

energy at home logo

Call 0800 038 5680 email or   visit their website If you are a health or social care professional you can refer a client by calling or emailing on their behalf or by filling in a quick referral form on the website.

The service offers:

  • Advice on how to make your home more efficient
  • Information on ways to pay for energy saving home improvements
  • Booking an energy assessment for your home
  • Discussion of your options
  • Help to find accredited installers

The following options may be available to you:

Very Cold Weather

Follow these steps from the NHS Choices website to keep yourself and relatives safe in very cold weather:

  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day
  • Wear several layers of warm clothes rather than one thick layer
  • Stay active – try not to sit still for more than an hour or so indoors. Get up and stretch your legs
  • Heat your home to at least 18c (including your bedroom at night) if you have reduced mobility, are over 65 or have a chronic health condition
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but don't use both at the same time
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or cold, don't wait until it gets more serious.  Seek advice from your pharmacist.

Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives

Cold weather is more dangerous for the elderly and vulnerable, so check on them regularly when possible. If you're worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact the council’s social services team on 01225 396000 or call the Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1174 (8am-7pm every day).

If you're concerned that the person may be suffering from hypothermia, contact NHS 111.

Advice for health care and social care professionals

Public Health England produces the nationalcold weather plan each year which raises the public’s awareness of the harm to health from cold, and provides guidance on how to prepare for and respond to cold weather. It triggers actions in the NHS, public health, social care and other community organisations, to support vulnerable people who have health, housing or economic circumstances that increase their risk of harm.

Cold weather Alert Service

Alerts are issued by the Met Office and communicated via weather forecasts on TV, radio and via their Twitter feed. The alerts are also sent directly to social and healthcare services in England, and Age UK. You can find out more about the Met Office’s Get Ready for Winter Campaign.

Coping with Common Winter Illnesses

You can find advice from NHS Choices here on coping with 10 of the most common or important winter illnesses:

  1. Colds
  2. Sore Throat
  3. Asthma
  4. Norovirus
  5. Painful Joints
  6. Cold Sores
  7. Heart Attacks
  8. Cold Hands and Feet
  9. Dry Skin
  10. Flu

If you’re feeling unwell and need advice, even if it's a cough or cold, don't wait until it gets more serious.  Seek advice from your pharmacist.

New app for parents: HANDi App

Handi logo

Approved by paediatric consultants at the Royal United Hospital and endorsed by local GPs

HANDi app provides straightforward expert advice for parents on how best to manage the six most common childhood illnesses:

  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • high temperature
  • chestiness
  • newborn problems and stomach pain

The app can be downloaded for free:

Download for android

Download for iPhone and iPad

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