Advice for Keeping Warm and Staying Safe in Winter

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Dressing warmly and keeping your home warm can significantly reduce the chances of ill health during the winter months. The chances of contracting colds and flu or more serious cold related health conditions are more likely if you are over 65, on a low income and have trouble heating your home or have a long-term health condition such as such cardiovascular and respiratory problems. 

Follow these simple steps to ensure you keep yourself and your home warm this winter:

Prepare for winter – April or May

  • Have gas heaters serviced by a registered gas fitter every 2 years to reduce the risk of house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Check the wire on electric blankets, heaters and other electrical appliances and ensure they are not worn or broken
  • Clean any heater filters regularly to keep free of dust

 Keep your home warm during the day

  • Heat your main living room to around 21o C. 
  • Heat your living areas during the day and your bedroom at night Note: not using heating in your home can lead to circulation and respiratory problems due to exposure to long term cold and could also make your home susceptible to mould
  • If your heating is on a timer, set the timer to come on before you get up so that the house is warm on awakening and to go off when you go to bed
  • Close doors to rooms that are not in use to keep heat in the rooms you are using
  • If possible, turn off heating to rooms that are not in use
  • On nice sunny days open your blinds during that day to capture sunlight and natural warmth.

Keep your home warm at night

  • Keep the heat in your bedroom above 18o C overnight
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket but never use both together as there is a potential for electrocution
  • Take care when filling hot water bottles
  • Get your electric blanket tested every 3 years for safety
  • Close curtains and blinds at night to keep warm air in the room and stop it from leaching through windows

Dress warmly

  • Wear several layers of thin, loose fitting clothing rather than one thick one
  • Wear cotton, wool or fleecy fibers to maintain body heat
  • Wear good fitting socks and slippers in the house and sturdy shoes with a good grip outdoors
  • If you need to leave the house make sure you wear a coat, hat, gloves and scarf
  • Use a scarf outdoors to cover your mouth and nose and protect your lungs from cold air
  • Wear bed socks and thermal underwear at night

Eat well

  • Eating regular meals helps keep your energy levels up and helps you to generate body heat
  • Eat hot foods and drinks, such as soups and tea or coffee

Stay active

  • Light exercise can help you to generate body heat and keep you warm.  If possible try to move around the house at least once an hour
  • If you are sitting down for long periods of time use a blanket or hot water bottle on your knees to keep you warm

Help your neighbours in winter

Check on older neighbours or relatives on colder days to ensure they are warm and safe.  The below flyer that will give you some quick steps that you can follow to be winter ready.

Download: Winter Safety Flyer(PDF, 2MB)

 

Advice From The Fire Brigade

  • Check heaters, flues and chimneys are in good working order.
  • Turn heaters off when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Never leave cooking, heaters, open fires or candles unattended.
  • When using electric blankets, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave them on for more than 30 minutes and turn them off when you go to bed.
  • Do not dry clothing less than one meter from heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Prepare a home fire escape plan and practice it.

Winter Health Warnings

Most people are aware of the toll heat can take on the body, especially on our older residents, but evidence would suggest that more Australians die from the cold than the heat.

People on low incomes are more vulnerable to the cold as they may struggle to afford high heating costs.  Poor insulation, such as that in holiday homes, caravans or mobile homes, can also put people at risk of cold related illnesses. 

The Aged & Disability Services Home Maintenance Team can help to get your home winter ready by installing draft proofing devices to doors and windows or insulating the external hot water pipe on your water heater.  We can also install smoke alarms and change batteries.  For more information on getting your home winter ready please phone 1300 850 600 and ask to speak to the Referral and Intake Officer

Annual Flu Vaccinations

Influenza causes wide-spread illness every year, particularly among high-risk groups including people over 65, sick people, nursing home or care facility residents or people with a chronic illness.

Immunisation is a way to reduce the risk of flu infections and/or complications; ideally you should receive the vaccine between March and May each year, before the onset of the flu season.

The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain a live virus.   People who get the flu after being vaccinated have been infected with an influenza strain that is not covered by the vaccine.

Free immunisations are provided under the National Immunisation Program for those at risk ie – people aged over 65 years, nursing home or care facility residents, people with a chronic illness, pregnant women, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Immunisations are also available for people not at risk but a cost will be charged for these people.  Contact your doctor for information about eligibility.

Further information on Influenza is available from the Better Health Channel website.