Tag Archives: winter deaths

Older, not colder

An older woman reading her fuel bill

The weather may still be relatively mild, but there’s no doubt that winter is just around the corner and for many older people, this is a huge worry. Age UK’s new research has found that 1 in 3 older people are concerned about keeping their home adequately warm this coming winter, and 70 per cent of older people are concerned about the high cost of energy.

Continue reading

The long-promised fuel poverty strategy for England

A woman living in fuel povertyAt last, the Government has produced the fuel poverty strategy paper it promised in December. It falls rather short of what we hoped for.

Continue reading

Reducing fuel poverty – a scourge for older people

Older couple receive bill

Despite a slight fall in the number of fuel poor older households in England in 2012, the Government’s annual fuel poverty report, released today, projects that levels of fuel poverty are once again set to rise.

Age UK has responded to these figures by publishing a new report. Reducing fuel poverty – a scourge for older people (PDF 580 KB) calls on the Government to urgently tackle the nation’s problem of fuel poverty by driving forward a massive energy efficiency programme.

Continue reading

A Lesson from Siberia

Portrait of a old woman in winter

In 1993, two friends and colleagues of mine alighted from an internal flight in the heart of Siberia. The light was failing and the temperature plummeted as they wound their way from the landing strip into an endless forest. They were lost. Eventually, coming upon a wooden settlement, they found shelter with the village teacher, the only English speaker for many, many miles.

Professor Bill Keatinge later confided in me that he had learned two lessons from this incident. One was to learn Russian (which he later did, with some panache). The second was to dress like the Russians. Because Yakutsk, the city which they had come to visit, is the coldest city in the world. During their trip, the temperature fell to a mere -26C. The lowest winter temperatures reach -60.

And what, may we ask, was the attraction of this cold Siberian city? Ironically, the inhospitable, intractable, bone gnawing cold was the motivation for their journey. They were part of the Eurowinter Group, a collection of Europe’s finest scientists, whose mission was to unravel the complicated story of winter deaths in Europe. Until that time, no-one had a convincing explanation (scientists call this a ‘model’) of the pattern of winter deaths in Europe which varied from one country to another. And the prime question was why on earth should the British Isles, with its temperate maritime climate, be the villain of the piece, with many more ‘excess winter deaths’ than its colder European neighbours? Continue reading