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. 

The flu vaccine is routinely given on the NHS to:

  • adults 65 and over (including adults over 18 at risk of flu)
  • pregnant women
  • children aged 2 and 3
  • children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • children aged 2 to 17 years at risk of flu

For 2018, there are 3 types of flu vaccine:

  • a live quadrivalent vaccine (which protects against 4 strains of flu), given as a nasal spray. This is for children and young people aged 2 to 17 years eligible for the flu vaccine
  • a quadrivalent injected vaccine. This is for adults aged 18 and over but below the age of 65 who are at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition and for children 6 months and above in an eligible group who cannot receive the live vaccine
  • an adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine. This is for people aged 65 and over as it has been shown to be more effective in this age group
  • If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they will be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2.

Talk to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist for more information about these vaccines.   Find out more about who should have the flu vaccine.

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

Carers Flu Vaccintaion toolkit

The aim of this toolkit is to bring together all the information and resources available to encourage unpaid carers to have the flu vaccination.

As most people do not identify themselves as carers, as “they just look after mum” or “help gran around the house”, the definition of a carer we are using is ‘anyone who identifies themselves as looking after someone that couldn’t manage without that persons help if they got ill’. 

Eligible carers also include those who are in receipt of a carers allowance and young carers (there are no age restrictions).

This toolkit is for use by any professional or persons who will have contact with carers. The information provided will help enable professionals/persons to advise carers or the person they care for that they are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination and why it’s recommended that they have it.  Carers flu vaccination toolkit too found here

Flu vaccination toolkit to support vaccination in people with long term conditions

Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), Flu Steering Group, have produced this useful resource to help promote the free NHS flu vaccination to those with a long term condition.

This purpose of this toolkit is to bring together information and resources to encourage people under the age of 65 with diabetes, chronic respiratory disease or chronic heart disease to have the flu vaccination. This toolkit is for use by self-help groups for people who have any of these conditions, by staff who work with them, or by organisations that can promote messages to the general public – please disseminate the toolkit amongst your networks and promote the vaccination where you can e.g. in your newsletters, on your websites and on social media.

 A link to the toolkit can be found here

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

The NHS Choices website has lots of information  on winter health and the imporance for staying 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.

Keeping your home 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 national cold 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



Making Every Contact Count enables organisations and individuals to develop and be able to use a different approach to working with people to address health and wellbeing. Telling people what to do is not the most effective way to help them to change. MECC is about altering how we interact with people through learning how to recognise opportunities to talk to people about their wellbeing.

For more information, or to find out how to register for free MECC training, please click on the MECC Training flyer, which can be found in the 'documents' section on this page.

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