Winter conditions can be bad for our health, particularly for those most vulnerable. So this winter, Essex County Council’s Public Health team are teaming up with partners and organisations across Essex to keep the county’s most vulnerable residents well and warm.
The ‘Stay Well this Winter’ campaign was today launched by Director of Public Health, Mike Gogarty and Cabinet Member for Health, Cllr Graham Butland and aims to highlight how people can keep well this winter and signpost those at risk this winter to help and support in their local area.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the importance of making sure people’s homes are ready for winter and to keep warm when temperatures drop.
Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, said: “In this day and age no one should be suffering because of the cold and certainly no one should be dying as a result. We are working with key providers and organisations across the county to ensure our most vulnerable residents stay well and warm this winter.
“Older people tend to be most vulnerable as they are often less active, spend more time indoors and have reduced muscle and body fat to help insulate them from the cold. This can increase the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, and other chest diseases. We hope that the awareness raised by this campaign and the advice given will help people understand what support is available and where to go for help.”
Cllr Graham Butland, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “The cold should not be the cause of anyone’s health deteriorating. So it’s crucial to prepare both yourself and your home before the cold weather arrives. For your home, ensure it’s well insulated and that your boiler has been serviced recently.
“We would also encourage people to look out for elderly or vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours, for whom keeping warm this winter could be a matter of life or death. Check to see that their homes are ready for the colder weather, if they have stocks of food and enough medicines so that they don’t need to go out in really bad weather, and, when the weather is milder, encourage them to stay active and wrap up well when they go out.”
According to Age UK, every winter in the UK, one older person dies needlessly every seven minutes. No one should die because of the cold. With greater awareness about winter health it is hoped that people know what to do to prepare for winter, and where to go for support.
For over 65s the cold weather can be very harmful as it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature, increasing risks of high blood pressure so it is important to be aware of what support is available and what you can do to help protect those you care for.
The NHS advises that at the first sign of a cough or cold you should get immediate advice from your pharmacist before it gets more serious. They also suggest thinking about any medicines that you or your family may need during the winter months to make sure that you have enough and also ensure you pick any prescriptions up before the Christmas holidays because of closures.
For over 65s, those with long term conditions and children aged between 2 and 7, the flu vaccination is also available free, and those in these priority groups are urged to book in to get theirs done as soon as possible. It is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.
Keeping your home warm this winter is also key to making sure you stay well. Your home should be heated your home to at least 18°C (65°F). Many people worry about the cost of heating but the success of the Essex Energy Switch, people can be confident that when they turn up the heating, they are still getting value for money.
The collective energy switching initiative is for people who want to cut their energy bills. It's a free, easy and secure way to cut energy bills without wasting time comparing prices on comparison sites and last year residents saved approximately £263 per household.