Are You Ready For Winter?

With extreme cold spells forecast, now would be a great time to get yourself and your loved ones prepared for the winter. Some simple steps can help ensure you are kept warm and well throughout the winter season.

At Home Instead, we support older people to live independently in their own homes. To help decrease the need to go into a care home, we have put together some tips that we hope will make for a safer, more comfortable winter. 


Keep yourself warm

Dress in plenty of layers and wear warm, non-slip shoes when venturing outside. Several thin layers of clothing will keep you warmer than one thick layer as it acts as insulation that traps warm air in. Thermal underwear and warm tights or socks are a good place to start.

If you’re still cold, wear a hat as a lot of heat is lost through your head.

Boots or shoes are best when you’re out and slippers with non-slip soles will be better when in doors.

When sitting down keep a blanket over you and have your feet up, as the air is cooler at ground level.

If you use an electric blanket, have it checked by an expert every three years. Also find out if it can be kept on all night as some are only to be used before you get in to bed.

By having at least one hot meal each day and hot drinks during the day will help to warm you from the inside.

Remember to keep yourself moving. This generates heat, so try not to sit still for more than one hour. Try and have a walk around the house or spread chores out throughout the day. If you are unable or find it hard to walk, you can still do small exercises in your chair such as wiggling your toes which will keep your blood pumping.

Equip your house to deal with the drop in the temperature

The ideal temperature for your home is between 18°C and 21°C. If you can’t heat every room you use, heat the living room throughout the day and the bedroom just before you go to bed.

Windows should be kept closed at night, especially as the coldest time of day is just before dawn.

Having your curtains closed will help keep the heat in. To be even more effective, thermal linings can be fitted in the curtains.

Foil fitted behind the radiators will help to reflect the heat back into the room.

Fix and seal any gaps around windows and doors to draught proof the house. It is said that your loft should have at least 270mm of insulation, so be sure to have this checked.

If you have an open fire that you do not use, insert a chimney balloon. This is inserted into the opening to stop the heat escaping. Open fires that you do use should have fire guards around and washing shouldn’t be hung too closely.

Water pipes can burst if they freeze, so you need to be able to turn off the water at the mains. To be able to do this, ensure you know where the stop tap is in your house. It can usually be found under the kitchen sink, in a cupboard or in a garage.

Fires and heaters need ventilation, so ensure that you don’t block vents.

If high winds are predicted, check your roof for loose tiles or slates. Keep away or secure down any garden furniture or they will be thrown around.

Remove dead branches from old trees and clear your guttering of built up leaves. Also check and remove any build-up of moss, as this traps moisture and prevents water draining away from your roof.

Have a mixture of salt and sand handy to use as grit and put on any steps or paths when it’s icy.


Store food and drink supplies

When the weather is too bad to go out, ensure you are stocked up on goods and even freeze them to last longer.

Milk is best frozen as soon as possible after buying, but ensure you pour out a small amount first as the contents will expand. It’s best to have a couple of smaller containers, as larger ones take longer to defrost.

Bread is best to be tapped on the worktop before freezing, as this will mean the slices will separate more easily.

Cheese, vegetables and leftover cooked meat can all be frozen, therefore will last for much longer.

It is also a good idea to stock up on basic medications, such as cold and flu remedies, for any illness that may occur which doesn’t require a doctor’s visit.

Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time and enquire about a pick up and deliver service they may offer. It is also advisable to visit your local GP to receive the annual flu vaccination. This is free if you’re aged 65 and over, or if you’re a carer or have certain long-term conditions.

Service your systems and check your alarms

To ensure your systems are running efficiently, you should have them serviced annually. This could potentially help reduce heating bills, but it will also help to pick up any possible faults. Leaks in gas boilers, for example, can put your whole family at risk.

Make sure your smoke alarms are in working order and change the batteries every 12 months. The fire service will come out and check these for free and you may be eligible to get free smoke alarms fitted.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted and working in each room that has a gas appliance. Blocked vents can cause a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which can be fatal.

Claim the extra financial support

If you receive a state pension and were born on or before 5 July 1952, you will receive the Winter Fuel Payment, which is worth between £100 and £300.

In periods of extreme weather, people claiming certain benefits will receive £25 a day to help with the costs of heating their home, known as the Cold Weather Payment.

Eligible older and low-income consumers can receive the Warm Home Discount, a one-off payment of £140 off their energy bill.

Take precaution when out on the road

Main roads are kept gritted, meaning these are the safest roads to park on to be less likely to get stuck.

Ice scrapers and de-icer are essentials to keep in your vehicle. Wearing sunglasses will help to reduce the glare from the low winter sun. 

In the case of an emergency, such as a breakdown, it would be an idea to carry an empty fuel can, blanket, warm clothes and a spare pair of shoes with good grip.

Ensure you have access to jump cables and the assistance of another car, as your battery may run low which causes your car to not start.

Do not rely on your phone, have a road atlas to hand for when signal is lost, or your battery dies and don’t have an in-car charger.

Make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive there.

Allow extra time for driving in the poor weather conditions.

Wind gusts can unsettle vehicles, so be sure to firmly grip your steering wheel with both hands, especially at higher speeds.

When driving in the snow, it is advisable to accelerate gently, using low revs. To avoid skidding, you may need to take off in second gear and you’ll need to leave 10 times the normal gap between cars. Also, be sure not to brake suddenly as it may lock up your wheels, causing you to skid and lose control.

Carry out vehicle checks

Before setting off on any journey, please be sure to check the following:

-          Fuel- cars use more fuel in heavy traffic and start/stop conditions.

-          Oil- avoid a potential breakdown by checking your oil level and top up when necessary.

-          Tyres- tyre pressures affect the steering, so make sure they are all at the factory recommended pressure and all four tyres need 3mm of tread of more.

-          Coolant- keep your anti-freeze topped up.

-          Lights- check your indicators, brake lights and fog lights. Replace any faulty bulbs or blown fuses.

-          Wiper blades- check for any wear or tear, washer fluid level and washer jets.

We want to make sure that everyone stays safe and has the correct support in place before the bad weather hits.

If you do have any problems this winter, please get in touch and we will do all we can to help.

Remember to keep an eye on the local news and weather forecasts. This will give you an indication when and where they predict the cold weather may hit. The more notice you have, the better prepared you can be.

Family and friends should visit more often during an extended period of cold weather, especially when it’s unsafe for you to venture out to get supplies.

If you know someone on their own who may need a little extra support or company as the dark nights become longer and colder, please get in touch.

From our office in Abergele, Home Instead are really proud to be able to provide care and help for seniors and rewarding careers for their CAREGivers all across North Wales; including Abergele, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, Denbigh, Holywell, Llandudno, Ruthin, Prestatyn, Llanrwst and everywhere in between!

To find out more please contact the office on 01745 772150.

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