Every winter in the UK, there are more than 200 deaths per day as a result of the cold weather. Samantha Nicklin, Senior Campaigns Officer at Age UK finds out why, and what can be done.
At Age UK County Durham, a lady asked about how to use the room thermometers being distributed at a ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well’ roadshow. She told the Development Worker about how her friend had a freezing cold house, but the friend wouldn’t take any notice when told that it was too cold for her. The lady took two thermometers away for her friend.
A week later, the lady phoned the office to explain that her friend had put the thermometers up, one in the bedroom and one in the living room, and was shocked to discover how cold her house was. She turned up the heating a little until the thermometers were in the ‘comfortable’ zone. The lady said her friend now feels much better and not as tired as she had been feeling.
Simple actions like this save lives. Older people who live in cold homes are at risk of becoming seriously ill. Exposure to the cold causes blood pressure to rise, increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke in the winter months. But the risks can be reduced by taking simple actions, like eating an extra hot meal every day, keeping the living room warm during the day and closing bedroom windows at night.
Making sure older people know the health risks, and most importantly, what action they can take stay warm and well, Age UK is distributing Winter Wrapped Up information guides, which come with two free thermometers, so that older people can monitor their room temperature at home and make sure they keep warm when the temperature drops. Age UK is also distributing a recipe book called Keep the Cold Out This Winter, which contains seven winter warmer recipes, and important tips for reducing the risk of illness.
Recent research shows that older people often ignore important messages about keeping warm in winter because they dismiss the information as ‘common sense’. Age UK research found that older people are more likely to take steps to keep warm if they are reminded about the health risks of exposure to the cold and of what actions they can take to reduce their risk.
That’s why Age UK is working with the Met Office to receive Cold Weather Alerts when a cold snap is imminent. We will be informed three or four days in advance of a cold snap that the temperature is likely to drop to below 2°C and stay cold for 48 hours or longer if there is heavy snow or widespread ice.
Every older person deserves to be protected from the potentially life-threatening consequences of the cold and so Age UK will be delivering vital information and services throughout the winter months, helping thousands of older people.
For more information about the campaign, or to order our winter resources, please contact Samantha Nicklin, Senior Campaigns Officer on 020 3033 1431 or email Samantha.Nicklin@ageuk.org.uk