Winter Information Centre

Being prepared for winter and keeping warm

Where can I get help and advice on keeping warm and staying healthy this winter 

Guidance on staying healthy this winter is available from the NHS

If you are receiving health services or social care, ask your GP, key worker or other contact about staying healthy in winter and the services available to you. Make sure you have a list of emergency numbers if you need to call for assistance or advice during cold weather. Get a flu jab if you are in a risk group. Anyone in a high risk group should have been contacted by their GP to arrange vaccination. You can check if you may be in a high risk group who should get a flu jab.

Check that your heating is working properly. Check room temperatures - especially those rooms where disabled or vulnerable people spend most of their time. If you or someone else is likely to be restricted to one room during the winter period or during a cold spell make sure that it can be kept at or above recommended temperatures and that you plan what resources you / they need to keep them safe and warm.

  • Make sure that you have access to sufficient fuel supplies for the winter period, especially if you rely on deliveries of oil or solid fuel. Consider alternative heating measures if required.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing by insulating them. Draught-proof around windows or doors. Avoid blocking ventilation points in the home. Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm that is EN50291 compliant.
  • Look out for vulnerable neighbours and help them prepare for winter. Consider other preventive action you can take, perhaps volunteering to help the community.

Keeping yourself warm

Wrap up against the cold by wearing suitable clothing. It's better to wear several thin layers like several t-shirts or light cardigans, rather than one thick coat or jumper, as the layers will trap warm air close to the body.

A lot of heat is lost through the head and neck, so if you're chilly indoors, try wearing a hat and scarf - you may feel silly but you will be warm! If you're sitting down, a shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth. You should also try to keep your feet up, because air is cooler at ground level.

Wear warm clothes in bed. Fleecy pyjamas or 'onesies' (one-piece full-body garments) are a good choice. When it's really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks - and even a hat if you like! If you're able to move about, gentle exercise will help you to feel warmer and improve your circulation.

Electric blankets, hot water bottles and microwaveable heat packs can be helpful, but remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and don't overheat them or use them for long periods, to avoid the risk of burns. And don't use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket at the same time.

Stay tuned to the weather forecast. Ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help).

Make sure you have regular hot meals that contain carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. Hot porridge for breakfast and warm soups, casseroles or stews are deliciously warming in cold weather.

Keeping your home warm

Check room temperatures. If you or someone else is likely to be restricted to one room during the winter period or during a cold spell, make sure that it can be kept at or above 21°C during the day and 18°C during the night.

The cost of heating always seems to be rising, so do make sure you use your heating to maximum effect - if it isn't working efficiently, you could be wasting energy and still not staying warm enough. Have your heating system serviced regularly.

You may be eligible for a Warm Homes discount.

Get a keyhole cover - it should only cost a couple of pounds and will help keep the draughts out in cold weather. Use draught excluders to cover gaps at the bottom of doors. These can be strips that attach to the bottom of the door, or a stuffed fabric tube. You could also use an old blanket.

If you can, fit thermal linings to your curtains - this will help to keep the heat in.

Don't put furniture in front of a radiator as the heat will be wasted.

Making sure your home is well-insulated will make it easier and cheaper to heat your home efficiently. Consider cavity wall insulation or loft insulation. The government's Green Deal scheme may help you to do this.

Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping and the draughts coming in. Keep any windows and external doors closed when it's cold - this will keep heat inside, where you most need it.

The Energy Saving Trust has lots of ideas on how to save energy.

Taking care when out and about

When you're going outside in cold weather, make sure you dress suitably. Warm gloves, a hat and thermal socks are important.

Wear shoes or boots with deep treads/grips when there is ice and snow around, to reduce the risk of slipping. You can also get metal grips which you attach to your shoes to make it easier to walk in snow and ice.

Carry an umbrella in case of rain or snow - getting wet will make you feel much colder.

Discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from the front of your house and public walkways nearby, if you are unable to do this yourself.

If you're worried about falling, try to avoid going out in icy weather. Friendly neighbours may be able to help with your shopping and other errands, or you could consider shopping online to get your groceries delivered instead of going to the supermarket.

Looking out for other people

Most of us can wrap up warm and cope when the weather gets colder. But try to think about how the cold weather might be affecting people around you. Maintain regular contact with vulnerable people and neighbours you know to be at risk in cold weather - ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their home adequately.

If you are concerned for yourself or a friend or neighbour and cannot manage because of the weather conditions, contact civic offices on 020 8770 5000, 24 hours a day. Emergency care services can be arranged if needed. In a medical emergency an ambulance should be called using 999.