13 Aug 2022

Western Trust issue 10 tips to help you keep warm and well this winter

The Western Trust is encouraging patients, clients, staff and the public to keep warm and well this winter, especially during extremely cold weather conditions. Winter is traditionally a busy period for the Western Trust. It brings a range of winter ailments including coughs and colds, the flu, and Norovirus (winter vomiting disease) all of which are spread easily. People with chronic long term health problems can see these exacerbated, for example those with breathing problems like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD – a disease of the lungs) find the cold damp weather makes breathing harder. In addition icy and snowy conditions inevitably lead to slips and falls, especially amongst the elderly who are more likely to be seriously injured and immobilised by breaks and sprains. Fionnuala McKinney, Western Trust Head of Health Improvement commented: “The Trust is committed to promoting the health and well-being of staff, clients, patients and all members of the community.  It is vitally important that we make people more aware of the effects of cold weather and provide advice on staying healthy.  Prevention is always better than cure and there are things we can all do to ensure our community keeps well during the extreme weather conditions we are facing and throughout the rest of the winter.” The Western Trust is urging you to follow and promote 10 tips to keep you, your family and those around you well.
  • Keep your home warm - Draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.  Your main living room should be between 18-21C (64-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of16C (61F) Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you’re in bed.
  • Wear warm clothes - Wrap up warm, inside and out. Wear several thin layers of clothes in order to keep the warm air trapped between them.  Wear hats, gloves and scarves and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as you get indoors.
  • Eat well - Food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to eat regular hot meals to keep your energy levels up and drink hot drinks to help you to feel warmer for longer.
  • Keep active - Move around at least once an hour and don’t sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm in your home.
  • Help others - Check on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be more vulnerable in cold weather.  Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines.
  • Travel carefully - Icy pavements and roads can be extremely slippery. Take extra care if you go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.
  • Plan ahead – check the weather forecast before traveling so that you are prepared for journeys and keep a list of people at hand  that you can contact if you are unable to get out of your home .
  • Prevent fires in the home - Unplug heaters/blankets when not in use. Don’t leave candles unattended. Do not use portable heaters for drying clothes. Make sure you have a fitted and working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitor.
  • Recognise the signs of hypothermia - Hypothermia is caused by being in a cold environment. People who are particularly at risk are those who are elderly, ill or babies.  If someone you know has been exposed to the cold and they are distressed, confused, have slow, shallow breathing or they're unconscious, they may have severe hypothermia. In this case, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance. While waiting for medical help, it is important to try to prevent further heat loss and gently warm the person.
  • Consider you alcohol intake Staying within the lower risk guidelines will go a long way to avoiding cold-related dangers such as hypothermia and falling. Knowing how you’re getting home, sticking with friends and wearing warm clothes will also help to ensure you have a safe night out.

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