People urged to check on vulnerable neighbours

Friday 1st February, 2019

Neighbours are being urged to look out for older, vulnerable people during the cold snap.

A forecast of low temperatures this week has raised calls for people to check on their neighbours, especially those who are elderly, housebound or those who may be vulnerable.

Cold weather can seriously affect people’s health, and if anyone has a long term condition the weather can trigger symptoms and make people feel very unwell.

For example, cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

Heart attacks are also sadly more common in winter and people with heart conditions can really feel the effects.

In addition to looking in on neighbours, local doctors are urging everyone to take simple steps to stay warm and well, and look after your own health.

It sounds very basic but stay indoors on very cold, windy days, and keep main rooms at 21C (70F), using a hot water bottle to keep warm in bed.

When you do need to go out, wrap up warm and wear a hat, scarf and gloves. If you do have a breathing condition like asthma, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to protect you from the cold air.

It is also important to be extra vigilant about taking regular medications, and if you need an inhaler, keep it close by and in a warm place.

Other top tips include:

  • Make sure you have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible;
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer);
  • And draw your curtains at dusk and keep your doors closed to block out draughts.

This week local doctors are also encouraging those who are eligible for the free flu jab to make sure they are protected.

This winter’s flu season is now taking hold locally, and the number of people visiting a GP for flu like illnesses in West Sussex has risen by over 60 per cent -from 8.9 per 100,000 to 14.2 in just a fortnight.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.

In terms of treatment, self-care at home is better as anti-biotics don't work on flu. However, the very best form of protection against flu for those who have not yet got it is to get the vaccine.

It still isn’t too late to get the flu vaccine, to protect yourself and vulnerable people around you.

Find out more information and advice on staying healthy in periods of cold weather on the Winter health pages of the NHS Choices website