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Charity's tips for vulnerable people on staying safe during cold weather

Age UK Norfolk and Public Health England have issued advice to help the elderly and other vulnerable people stay safe during the country's cold snap. Picture: Thinkstock

Age UK Norfolk and Public Health England have issued advice to help the elderly and other vulnerable people stay safe during the country's cold snap. Picture: Thinkstock

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Ensuring homes are properly heated, checking available fuel benefits and keeping a close eye on the weather forecast are among tips being offered to elderly people to help keep safe and warm during the colder weather.

Temperatures in Norfolk are expected to remain close to freezing over the next few days, with a Met Office weather warning in place and another warning of snow and ice issued for Thursday night.

Amid the cold snap Age UK Norfolk and Public Health England have reminded the importance of protecting people who are more vulnerable to the cold, including the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.

Dr Emer O’Connell, public health consultant with Public Health England, said people should be aware of friends and relatives who are more vulnerable to the cold and make sure they are coping.

“With continued cold weather forecast, now is the time to prepare and look out for those most at risk of falling ill.

Age UK Norfolk recommends that people susceptible to the cold should heat their homes to between 18C and 21C during cold weather. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA WireAge UK Norfolk recommends that people susceptible to the cold should heat their homes to between 18C and 21C during cold weather. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

“If you can, check on family, friends and neighbours who are older, have heart and lung conditions or young children as all these groups are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold,” she said.

Age UK Norfolk and Public Health England recommend steps older people should take in order to stay warm and safe as temperatures drop, including:

• Stay active, even while indoors, to generate heat.

• Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, especially if the forecast is particularly bad, and see if your pharmacy offers a delivery service.

• Check the weather forecast regularly and before heading outside.

• Wear lots of thin layers of clothing as these will trap air and keep you warmer than one thick layer.

• Have plenty of warm food and drink.

• Heat your home to at least 18C (between 18C and 21C is ideal).

• To minimise heat loss in the home, draw curtains or lower blinds in the evening, but tuck long curtains behind radiators and keep radiators clear of furniture to prevent heat from getting trapped.

• Those most susceptible to cold-related illnesses or falls should avoid going out in cold or icy conditions, and should wear shoes with a good slip-resistant grip if they do.

Age UK Norfolk also says it is also important for older homeowners to keep their winter finances in order and investigated which benefits they may be entitled to.

As well as a winter fuel payment you could be entitled to a cold weather payment and the warm home discount on your electricity bill if you receive pension credit. Age UK has an online benefits calculator to check what you may be eligible for, or alternatively call the Age UK advice line on 0300 500 1217 to arrange a free benefits check.

People could also consider switching energy supplier to find a cheaper tariff or special offer deal.

Public Health England also advises that, in the event of a power cut, power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk people a priority for reconnection.

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