Winter needn’t be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family. Although colds and flu may start to circulate in the community, there are lots of things you can do to keep yourself healthy and well.
Below are some steps you can take yourself to help ward off winter illness:
Common childhood health issues
During the winter months many children suffer with common but often treatable conditions which can worsen if not treated correctly. The NHS is focussing on a message that is ‘Help us help you.”
Healthcare Leaders have come together to provide a guide to three common childhood health issues that parents can use to self-treat, visit their GP, or call NHS111 and know what to do in an emergency. To download a copy of the information advice sheets for the 3 illnesses, please click the links below.
Get your flu vaccination- if you are in a priority group, it’s free (inc pregnant, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and young children). Carers are people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill may get it for free too. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about it. Click on the NHS Choices website for more information.
Flu is very infectious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.
Visit your pharmacist
At the first sign of a cough or cold, get immediate advice from a pharmacist before it gets worse. Pharmacists are expert healthcare professionals who can give advice and recommend treatments for minor health conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats and childhood fever. Find out more.
Keep on top of your prescriptions
Think about any medicines that you or your family may need during the winter months and make sure you have enough.
Food is a vital source of energy and keeps your body warm. Have hot meals and drinks regularly & stock up. For advice on how to eat well this winter, see our ‘balanced diet‘ page.
Keep active and get outdoors
We all know that exercise is good for your overall health – and it can help keep you warm in winter. If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits. If possible, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so. Have a look at our livewell activities across Essex for inspiration.
Daylight is good for boosting the immune system and preventing low mood, so try to get as much natural sunlight as possible. Move about in the house if the weather really is too bad to get out. If you really can’t get out, try to make your home as light as airy as possible and sit near the window.
Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous, especially for the very young, very old or those with long term conditions. Here are some tips to stay warm and well:
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. 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.
If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, you might be able to take advantage of certain benefits, grants and help offered by the government and energy suppliers, you may be eligible for a Warm Home Discount.
Visit your local authority’s website for grants and assistance available in your area such as loft and cavity wall insulation. Keep warm booklet for the Braintree district
Make sure your home is well-insulated will make it easier and cheaper to heat your home efficiently. Consider cavity wall insulation or loft insulation. The government’s Green Deal scheme may help you to do this
2. Wear sensible clothing when outdoors
Wrap a scarf loosely around your mouth when outdoors – add a hat and wear shoes with a good grip, too. If you have a heart or respiratory problem like asthma or COPD, stay indoors during very cold weather – check #Scarfie for more top tips. Have a look at patient videos to help you with COPD.
3.Look after yourself and others
On cold days try to avoid going outside. However, if you do need to go out, remember to 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.
If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour you contact your local council 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 you should contact NHS 111. Also more advice from NHS Choices.
Winter blues and loneliness
Dark nights and cold can stop people from getting out, which can lead to feeling low, lonely and isolated. Try to keep in touch with your support network, even if it’s just over the phone, as well as following the tips above. Even if you don’t suffer from these issues, it’s important to keep an eye out for others, especially elderly neighbours. See what’s happening every week in Essex to keep you busy and active.
Winter warmth roadshow in Halstead–Talk to local health and wellbeing services, charities and voluntary groups, lunch clubs and other social groups at this local event organised by Community 360 in conjunction with Essex County Council.
Colchester Communities Can project
The Colchester Communities Can pop-up shop near @LionWalkShoppingCentre are gratefully accepting donations of hats, scarves, coats, gloves and blankets, to help someone stay warm this winter.
Donated items will be included in emergency winter packs, which are being given to people in need between January and 31 March. If you have any serviceable, clean winter clothing or blankets, please bring them to #ColCommunitiesCan at The 1Colchester Centre, Culver Street East, CO1 1LF.
MeetUpMondays– The Valero Lounge in Witham and Cool Beans in the Gardens in Braintree are welcoming people for a free cup of tea or coffee to those who are a bit fed up with their own company. Come along any time on Monday from 9.30am-11.30am. Everyone is in the same boat so come along to these friendly venues.
Free warm clothing or home items (electric heater, hot water bottle) to keep out of the cold
To qualify you must fit at least ONE of the following criteria:
Over 75 years
Have a child under 5 years living at the household
The Community and Voluntary Services (CVS)aim to prevent and respond to crisis, support clients most at risk to access a benefits check and provide minor home improvements. This can include emergency heating, food, clothing, home visits, and transport. Visit their website to contact your local CVS in Essex.
If you are particularly vulnerable during cold weather because of health problems or a disability then you can apply to go on the Priority Services Register. People listed on this register will receive special attention in the event of a power cut.
Do you want to find out how to keep your home, family and personal belongings safe this winter? Visit the Essex Police website for their top five safety tips for a number of main crimes that are committed around this time of year and follow the conversation on Twitter #LetsTalkAboutCrime.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is commited to ensuring all the Essex have a working smoke alarm. They carry out home safety visits to anyone living in Essex, completely FREE of charge, book yours now.
Visit your local authority’s website for advice about flooding and severe weather warnings.