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Six things you should do for your health and home this winter

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Image of coffee cupThe cold weather is set to arrive this week but there are lots of tips to make sure you give yourself the best chance to stay warm and healthy. Here are some top tips from Public Health England.

1. FIRST AND FOREMOST - GET YOUR FLU JAB

If you are in an eligible group it’s free because you need it. You are more at risk if you have a long-term health condition, are older or are pregnant.

2. KEEP WARM AND KEEP WELL

Heating your home to at least 18° C (65° F) in winter is particularly important. Insulating your home not only helps to keep you warm and healthy, but it can also help to keep your heating costs down. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.

3. GET FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR PAYING YOUR HEATING BILL

It’s worthwhile claiming what you are entitled to.

  • Winter Fuel Payment - a tax-free benefit of up to £300 to pay for heating. People born on or before 5 May 1953 will qualify this year. The exact amount depends on your circumstances including your age, whether you live alone, get Pension Credit, or income-based Jobseeker’s or Employment and Support Allowances.
  • Cold Weather Payment - made during periods of very cold weather, to help pay for extra heating costs. The average temperature where you live must be recorded or forecast below 0°C for seven days in a row.  You may be eligible if you are getting Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or you receive Child Tax Credit that includes a disability element
  • Warm Home Discount Scheme helps low-income and vulnerable households with energy costs.  Participating energy companies will be providing a discount of £140 on the electricity bill of certain customers, as well as discounts to a broader group of low-income customers.

4. GET ON THE PRIORITY SERVICES REGISTER IN CASE OF POWER CUTS

This is a free service provided by water and power suppliers for older and disabled people, or if you depend on electricity to keep medical or mobility equipment running.

5. HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

Remember to get your heating system checked regularly by qualified professionals, and if you have open fires make sure they are properly ventilated. You should have cooking and heating appliances that burn fossil fuels or wood serviced at least once a year, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  You may need to remind your landlord that they are legally obliged to have an annual gas safety check completed in the property. Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm that meets European Standard EN50291 in any room that contains a gas or solid fuel burning appliance.

6. CHECK ON OTHERS

Older neighbours and relatives and those with heart and lung conditions, as well as those with very young children, are at particular risk from the cold. That’s why it’s so important for us all to make sure those at risk are safe and well, have stocks of food and medicine in so they don’t have to go out during really cold weather and encourage them to follow all the strands of advice in this blog.   

To find out more, download the Keep Warm Keep Well booklet which contains a wealth of advice to help you maintain good health during winter, take advantage of the financial help available and find out about winter wellness.

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