Keep warm, keep well this winter

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WITH temperatures plummeting and Christmas just around the corner, NHS Cambridgeshire are reminding people to Keep Warm, Keep Well this winter.

Cold weather can lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes. Some of the people most vulnerable to cold related illness are:

* The very old and very young.

* People with a long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease

* People with dementia or severe mental health problems

* People who are homeless or who find it difficult to heat their home

Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health at NHS Cambridgeshire said: “This time of year is it is very important to keep your home warm. Heating for your main living area should be set at 21C (70F) during the day, and 18C (64F) at night. If it’s hard for you to heat the whole house to this level, try to keep the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You should wrap up warm both inside your house and when you are outside. It is best to always wear several thinner layers of clothes rather than one thick layer.

If possible, you should stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems. Try and keep active as much as you can. Moving around regularly is important - at least once an hour and don’t sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm. It’s also important to eat well and have hot meals and drinks.

It is important too that you look out for elderly or vulnerable friends and neighbours. Make sure they’re warm enough, including at night, and that they have plentiful stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather. This time of year it is important that people wrap up warm and eat as well as possible to avoid health problems that can be triggered as a result of cold weather.”

Other ways to keep warm this winter include:

The Warm Front Scheme offers grants for heating and insulation improvements up to £3,500 or up to £6,000 if your home needs oil central heating.

To find out if you qualify, call a Warm Front advisor free on 0800-316-2805 (lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am-6pm and Saturdays from 9am-5pm) or visit the Warm Front website.

Winter Fuel Payments of up to £400 are available if you were born on or before July 5 1950.

To find out more about Winter Fuel Payments, call 08459-151515 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday, textphone 0845 601 5613) or visit www.direct.gov.uk/winterfuel.

Cold weather payments may be available to you if you receive certain benefits or have a child who is disabled or under the age of five.

To find out more about Cold Weather Payments contact Jobcentre Plus (you can find the nearest office in the phonebook) or visit www.direct.gov.uk/coldweatherpayment.