Keeping warm in winter service

There is a direct link between rises in illness and death rates and the cold weather, especially amongst older people and in other vulnerable groups. By taking precautions some of this risk can be reduced.

Looking out for trouble

By staying vigilant during colder times, it may be easier to spot someone in trouble. Always look out for signs that something is wrong at home.

Some signs to look out for are:

  • curtains drawn during the day
  • dog barking all day or cat scratching to be let in
  • lights on during the day
  • home in darkness when there would normally be someone at home
  • milk not taken in during the day
  • newspapers sticking out of the letter box

Keeping yourself warm

Safety is important in all aspects of keeping yourself warm. Never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together, as this is extremely dangerous and could give you an electric shock.

If you are aged 60 or over, or living with a person who is aged 60 or over, you may be entitled to some additional financial help to heat your home in the winter, and especially during periods of very cold weather.


Hypothermia is a lowered temperature of the organs inside the body. It is a condition that an ordinary thermometer cannot measure.

You may not actually feel cold, but if you sit in a cold room and do little or nothing to keep warm then you may run the risk of becoming hypothermic or becoming ill with bronchitis or pneumonia. Both are cold-related illnesses.

Watch out for the danger signs:

  • absence of complaint about feeling cold, even in a bitterly cold room
  • drowsiness
  • slurred speech
  • very cold skin on parts of the body that are usually covered up, for example the stomach or armpits

If you are in doubt:

  • move the person into warmer surroundings if possible
  • wrap the person in a light layer of blankets or duvet to avoid further loss of body heat
  • give them warm, nourishing drinks
  • call a nurse or doctor
  • do not subject the person to any sudden change of temperature - so do not put them next to a fire or give them hot water bottles or heavy layers of clothes or blankets
  • do not give them alcohol, as it will stimulate further heat loss through the skin

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