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Keep warm keep well

06 December 2013


Although winter weather and snow can be fun, it is also associated with an increase in illnesses and injuries. There’s more to feeling ‘under the weather’ than most people realise.  

Cold and wintry conditions can cause severe illness and, in the worst cases, people can die. There were an estimated 31,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2012/13 –the highest number of excess winter deaths since 2008/9.

Of these excess winter deaths, a majority were attributable to circulatory and respiratory diseases. However, with some simple precautions, most people can be prepared for the cold weather and prevent much of the misery that is often associated with winter weather. Severe cold snaps can have dramatic effects on everyday life, especially for those people who are already vulnerable because of their age, illness or disability.

Dr Mary Fenske, Bedford GP, explains ‘"Cold weather can cause misery, distress, avoidable illness and, sadly, even death for some older people. One of the best ways of keeping well during winter is to stay warm.”

Here are 5 tips to keep warm and stay healthy over the winter months.


  1. Heat your home well. By setting your heating to the right temperature (between 18-21ºC) you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills.
  2. Get financial support. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
  3. Eat well, try to have at least one hot meal every day and drink plenty of fluids. Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm.
  4. 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. Pneumonia jabs are also available. Ask your GP or practice nurse.
  5. Look after yourself and others. On cold days try to avoid going outside. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well.


Public Health registrar, Dr Hannah Goodchild said: “We recognise that cold weather can be dangerous for older and vulnerable people. It is important we work in partnership to offer advice and support for those most at risk to stay well during the winter period."

There is a free useful hints and tips booklet available from Age UK on www.ageuk.org.uk or call 0800 169 65 65.

There is also information available on Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group website www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk on the top tips for keeping warm this winter https://www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/page/?id=3859 




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