How to stay well in icy weather

In January and February – and even sometimes March – there’s always the risk of a cold snap, even during the mildest winter. And while there’s no telling how cold it might get, being prepared for even just a few days of icy weather is a good idea, especially if you’re older or have a long-term medical condition, or you’re caring for young children.

According to Public Health England (PHE), it’s essential to think about what you could do to keep warm and well during the cold.

“It’s important to think about what you can do to prepare and protect more vulnerable friends and family from the ill-effects of the cold,” says PHE’s Dr Owen Landeg.

Here are some tips from Dr Landeg and other PHE experts to help you beat the chill and stay healthy when the temperature drops:

  • To stay warm, wear lots of thin layers and have plenty of warm foods and drinks.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out – if ice is forecast, wear shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip to prevent any accidental falls. And if possible, avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you’re at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls.
  • Make sure you have a good stock of food and medications in advance if snow and ice is on the way – if you can’t get out and about, try ordering groceries online and having them delivered, or ask someone to help.
  • When indoors, stay warm by heating your home to at least 18C, particularly if anyone in your home is very young, 65 or older, or has a long-term heart or lung condition,, as they can feel the ill-effects of cold more than others.
  • Look out for vulnerable friends and family, and make sure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately .
  • If you’re eligible, apply for benefits and other entitlements – for instance, many power and utility companies have schemes that make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts. There’s also more information on making your home more energy efficient and keeping up with your energy bills at www.gov.uk/phe/keep-warm.

Winter flu: how to stay safe

Figures from PHE also confirm that flu levels are currently rising, so it’s also important to make sure you’re protected, especially if you’re at risk of having flu-related complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

If you’re eligible for a free NHS flu jab, it’s still not too late to have it, since the best form of protection against flu is to get the vaccine (if you’re not eligible for a free jab, many Careway pharmacies offer a private flu vaccination service).

Another thing you can do to protect yourself against flu as well as colds is to practise good respiratory and hand hygiene. Cold and flu viruses can live for many hours on hard (non-porous) surfaces, and these viruses are often transmitted when you touch an infected service and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes. That’s why experts recommend that you frequently clean surfaces to stop the spread of flu, as well as washing your hands regularly.

If you already have flu or a cold, you can also help stop other people catching it off you by catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throwing the tissue away and then washing your hands afterwards with soap and water to kill the germs.

The NHS also has lots more advice online about staying well this winter. Your local Careway pharmacist can also give you plenty of tips, and some may be able to arrange for you to have your prescription medicines delivered if you find it difficult to get outdoors when it’s cold. Just ask your local pharmacist about the prescription services they offer – find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.