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Winter health

Over the past couple of years we have seen how quickly the weather can change within a short space of time.

Here are some practical steps you can make to help keep you warm and healthy throughout the colder months this year.

Keeping yourself healthy

Vaccinations

It’s important to keep your vaccinations up to date in order to stay protected during the winter months.

Annual Flu Jab

Flu season aheadIt is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn before any outbreaks of flu.

The flu vaccine for this winter provides protection against some different strains of flu from last year's which will have stopped being effective now. For this reason we strongly recommend that even if you were vaccinated last year, you should be vaccinated again this year.

You are entitled to a free vaccination if you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, have certain medical conditions, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person.

  • Stock up on simple cold, flu and sore throat remedies. Your local Pharmacy can make suggestions and also offer advice for minor illnesses
  • Ensure that you order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast. Some pharmacies now offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service which can be helpful if you are unable to leave your home

For a more detailed list view our Influenza (flu) page, if pregnant visit our Flu in Pregnancy page.

Pneumococcal Vaccination

Cases of invasive pneumococcal infection usually peak in the winter, during December and January, therefore it is important that those at risk receive their one-off pneumococcal vaccination.

People with a weakened immune system are most at risk of catching a pneumococcal infection, such as adults aged over 65, babies and young children under two.

For more information regarding pneumococcal, visit our Pneumococcal page.

Colds and Sore Throat

Sore throats are very common and usually nothing to worry about. They normally get better within a week.

Most are caused by minor illnesses such as colds or flu and can be treated at home your local pharmacist can also advise on what medication can be taken based on your symptoms. Please remember that antibiotics are not effective against colds and most sore throats.

For more detailed information visit NHS Choices – Sore Throat page

Protect against germs - avoid picking up and spreading germs by practicing good hygiene – washing your hands regularly with soap and hot water, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief when you cough or sneeze, and using hand sanitizer when out and about. This will help protect against getting colds, flu, and other conditions such as norovirus (diarrhoea and vomiting)

Keeping ActiveGo Do Active

Staying active is essential for your general wellbeing and fitness and by regularly moving the heat it generates keep you warm. If you are indoors do not sit around for longer than an hour. Get up and walk around make a warm drink or spread chores around the house throughout the day.

Sunlight & Vitamin D

Sunlight & Vitamin DGet outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial. Make your work and home environment as light and airy as possible.

Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals. In the UK, cows' milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn't fortified, as it is in some other countries.

Although roughly one in five people has low vitamin D levels, this is not the same as a vitamin D deficiency, most people are simply being asked to consider taking supplements in light of the recommendation from Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)

New Guidelines on Vitamin D what you need to know

Eating Well

Hot food and drinks help keep you warm. We recommend you eat at least one hot meal per day and drink plenty of fluids. Foods should include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and nutrients. Frozen vegetables and fruit are just as good as fresh!

Stock up on basic food items in your cupboards or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping.

Remember if you experience a power cut your freezer may stop working and you may need to look at eating dried or tinned foods as an alternative.

 Staying prepared

Keeping Warm

fireplace

  • Wear several layers of clothes rather than one chunky layer – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help maintain body heat
  • Duvets and blankets can come in useful to keep warm if you heating stops working or your power supplies are cut off

By setting your heating to the right temperature (18-21 °C, 65-70 °F), you can keep your home warm. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night when the weather is cold.

  • Your Heating Systems should be serviced and if you have a coal fire arrange for the chimney to be swept or alternatively ask your landlord to do this if it is their responsibility
  • For wood-burners, coal or gas heaters make sure the rooms are well ventilated
  • Fitting draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors
  • Making sure you have loft insulation. And if you have cavity walls, make sure they are insulated too
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
  • Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep heat generated inside your rooms
  • Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture or curtains
  • If you experience a problem with your gas connection contact 0808 1624 444

Heating Oil Thefts

The Isle of Man Constabulary has become aware of a recent increase in reported thefts of heating oil from both domestic and commercial premises follow this link Heating Oil - Is your tank vulnerable to theft? for more information.

 Manx Utilities

Electricity

  • If you experience no supply these issues can be reported by calling 687687.  
  • Consider items around your home which may require electrical supplies like your telephones, fridge, freezer, cooker and items like house phones, mobile phones, computers and radios.
  • Home Energy Officer is available to discuss simple steps you can take to help you reduce your energy consumption.

Power cuts highlight how easy you can be cut off from the outside world if you live in remote areas. Even a battery powered radio can be useful to keep in contact with the outside world.

In the event of a power outage you can also follow the Manx Utilities Facebook or Twitter feed pages for regular updates.

Water

  • Check your Water stopcock is working properly
  • Read the Manx Utilities information page on frozen pipes and how to go about unfreezing them during cold weather
  • Flooding advice

Safety in the Home

  • Make sure the batteries in your smoke alarms are tested regularly and that Electric blankets are serviced at least every three years.  Remember never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket

  • For more advice contact our local Fire and Rescue Service who offer community advice and help with the fitting and testing of these items

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in case air vents become blocked for more advice view Manx Gas Carbon Monoxide safety pages.  Do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home; it is inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and this can kill

  • Learn a few simple first aid steps; such as how to deal with strains and sprains or broken bones, as trips and falls can increase in icy weather. The St John Ambulance website offers easy simple advice on first aid

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help either by contacting friends, relatives, neighbours, your GP, Social Worker, District Nurse, or Housing Officer and remember, in a life threatening situation you should always dial 999 immediately

Road and Pedestrian Access

  • Keep a regular eye on the weather forecasts issued by Ronaldsway Met Office
  • Stock up on salt and sand to put on steps or paths in icy weather.  Visit your local amenity centres or locate your nearest salt bin in your area

  • View Winter Gritting routes during snow

  • Tidal Flooding - latest Updates page for more detailed information on how flooding on Island

  • The Department of Infrastructure (DOI) issue regular updates via Twitter and Facebook during poor weather conditions to keep you updated on road closures and accessibility

Support Services

  • Fuel Poverty - The Department of Social Care offers a winter bonus of £300 to qualifying people who are entitled to income support. These include pensioners, the long-term sick, disabled people and families who have a child under five living with them.  Further details information can be found on our Winter Bonus page

  • Free local Energy Efficiency Advice on heating and insulation at the Manx Energy Advice Centre, The Green Centre, Chester Street Complex, Douglas or by telephoning +44 1624 851482
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