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Health

Cumbria’s residents urged to prepare for cold weather

As we go into winter, Cumbria County Council and the local NHS are encouraging Cumbria’s residents to make sure they’re well prepared and ‘winter ready’.

Cold weather can be bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 and older. As we get older it takes longer to warm up, which raises the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke, but there are steps we can take to keep warm and well.

Here’s a checklist to help:

  • Keep warm – Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F). You may prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer. Keep your bedroom window closed on a winter’s night. Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.
  • Get financial support – There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. If you are aged 60 or over and struggling with the cost of heating your home, you may be eligible for a grant of up to £250. Please contact your local Age UK branch to find out more.
  • If you’re eligible for the free flu jab, get it now – Contact your GP practice or pharmacist to get your free flu jab if you are aged 65 or over, have certain health conditions, live in a residential or nursing home, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person. This year, household contacts of anyone on the NHS Shielded Patient List are also eligible. Visit www.nhs.uk/flu to learn more.
  • Don’t delay in getting treatment for minor winter ailments like colds or sore throats. Visit your local pharmacist for treatment advice and flu remedies so you can recover quicker.
  • Catch it, bin it, kill it – carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes, then bin the tissues and kill the germs by washing your hands.
  • Wear several layers of clothes rather than 1 chunky layer – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat.

Check up on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or respiratory problems, to make sure they:

  • are safe and well
  • are warm enough, especially at night
  • have stocks of essentials, like food, medicines and tissues, so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. If you are checking on people not in your support bubble, please remember to follow ‘Hands. Face. Space’ to protect each other from coronavirus.

Dr Colin Patterson, lead GP for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This year, more than ever, it is important that people are kind to themselves and prepared in case of illness. Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked up with all the usual things to ease any symptoms, be ready to get a test and self-isolate if you think you may be developing COVID.

“It is really normal to feel stressed and anxious when life is as disrupted as it is at the moment. Don’t expect to be able to cope with everything if you are facing a difficult time, and be ready to slow down.”

Last week the ‘Help is here’ leaflet was delivered to every home in Cumbria with trusted sources of advice for people who are struggling – with debt, finances, mental health. Advice is also available online at www.cumbria.gov.uk.

Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Cold weather can affect both physical and mental health and the combination of winter and coronavirus means we all need, more than ever, to take steps to help each other, especially for people who are already vulnerable because of their age, illness or disability.”

If you are concerned about your health or somebody you care for, seek advice now from www.nhs.uk/staywell, NHS 111 or your local pharmacist. The sooner you get advice, the sooner you are likely to get better.

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