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.
Staying Healthy this Winter
Cold weather usually means the start of the flu season and this can cause particular difficulties if you have breathing and circulation problems.
To help you stay well, it is important to keep warm at home and outdoors, follow as healthy a lifestyle as you can, and receive your free flu vaccination.
Annual Flu Jab
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.
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.
For more detailed information visit NHS Choices – Sore Throat page
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 is good for winter Tiredness
Get 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 Guidance
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. Good food sources are:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- red meat
- 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)
Remember friends, neighbours and family that are less able than you – give them a ring or call round to see if they need help with anything you would find easier to do than they would.
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.
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)
For more detailed information link to the NHS choices Healthy Eating website.
- Wear plenty of layers of clothes and make sure you have warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles.
- Duvets and blankets can come in useful to keep warm if you heating stops working or your power supplies are cut off.
- As the nights close in it is not unusual to feel a bit down especially when the days are short and it gets dark around 4 pm. Make sure you stay in touch with friends either by phoning them or by regular visits.
- 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. There are a number of accredited first aid providers and useful education resources available.
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.
Heating in your home
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.
Manx Gas has produced a useful information document to help energy with efficiency 'Cut your bills and save money'
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 Authority
Electricity supply to your property
- 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.
Last year’s power cuts highlighted 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.
- 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.
Home Energy Officer
A Home Energy Officer is available to discuss simple steps you can take to help you reduce your energy consumption.
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.
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.
- Link here to view Winter Gritting routes during snow.
- Tidal Flooding - latest Updates page for more detailed information on how flooding on Island.
- 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.