|One or more sections on this page provide access to easy-read information - look out for this logo.|
When the temperature drops, it's important to take steps to keep yourself warm, both in the home and when you go out.
It's an old myth that you can catch a cold from going out in cold weather, but getting too cold can still be bad for your health. Cold weather can be particularly dangerous if you have breathing problems, reduced mobility, a low immune system or circulatory conditions. Illnesses like colds and flu are also more common during the winter months as it's easier for the germs to move in cold air. And if you get too cold for too long, you could suffer from hypothermia, which is when your body starts to shut down to save heat.
If you feel cold or can't afford to heat your home ask for help - you may be entitled to help with your heating costs.
- Wrap up against the cold by wearing suitable clothing. It's better to wear several thin layers like several t-shirts or light cardigans, rather than one thick coat or jumper, as the layers will trap warm air close to the body
- A lot of heat is lost through the head and neck, so if you're chilly indoors, try wearing a hat and scarf - you may feel silly but you will be warm!
- If you're sitting down, a shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth. You should also try to keep your feet up, because air is cooler at ground level
- Wear warm clothes in bed. Fleecy pyjamas or 'onesies' (one-piece full-body garments) are a good choice. When it's really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks - and even a hat if you like!
- If you're able to move about, gentle exercise will help you to feel warmer and improve your circulation
- Electric blankets, hot water bottles and microwaveable heat packs can be helpful, but remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and don't overheat them or use them for long periods, to avoid the risk of burns. And don't use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket at the same time
- Stay tuned to the weather forecast. Ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help)
- Make sure you have regular hot meals that contain carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, bread and rice. Hot porridge for breakfast and warm soups, casseroles or stews are deliciously warming in cold weather
- Check room temperatures. If you or someone else is likely to be restricted to one room during the winter period or during a cold spell, make sure that it can be kept at or above 21°C during the day and 18°C during the night.
- The cost of heating always seems to be rising, so do make sure you use your heating to maximum effect - if it isn't working efficiently, you could be wasting energy and still not staying warm enough. Have your heating system serviced regularly.
- Get a keyhole cover - it should only cost a couple of pounds and will help keep the draughts out in cold weather.
- Shut doors to keep heat in the rooms you use the most.
- Use draught excluders to cover gaps at the bottom of doors. These can be strips that attach to the bottom of the door, or a stuffed fabric tube. You could also use an old blanket.
- If you can, fit thermal linings to your curtains - this will help to keep the heat in.
- Don't put furniture in front of a radiator as the heat will be wasted.
- Making sure your home is well-insulated will make it easier and cheaper to heat your home efficiently. Consider cavity wall insulation or loft insulation.
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme may help you to do this. You can find more information here.
- Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop the heat escaping and the draughts coming in.
- Keep any windows and external doors closed when it's cold - this will keep heat inside, where you most need it.
- Have a look at the Energy Saving Trust website for lots of ideas on how to save energy.
- When you're going outside in cold weather, make sure you dress suitably. Warm gloves, a hat and thermal socks are important
- Wear shoes or boots with deep treads/grips when there is ice and snow around, to reduce the risk of slipping. You can also get metal grips which you attach to your shoes to make it easier to walk in snow and ice
- Carry an umbrella in case of rain or snow - getting wet will make you feel much colder
- Discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from the front of your house and public walkways nearby, if you are unable to do this yourself.
- If you're worried about falling, try to avoid going out in icy weather. Friendly neighbours may be able to help with your shopping and other errands, or you could consider shopping online to get your groceries delivered instead of going to the supermarket.
Most of us can wrap up warm and cope when the weather gets colder. But try to think about how the cold weather might be affecting people around you. Maintain regular contact with vulnerable people and neighbours you know to be at risk in cold weather - ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their home adequately
If you receive winter fuel allowance and live in Kensington and Chelsea but feel you don't need it, you could help thousands of local elderly people living in fuel poverty through the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.
If you would like to donate your winter fuel payment, please contact The Kensington & Chelsea Foundation on 020 7229 5499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org who will talk you through what to do.
The Foundation encourages and co-ordinates donations from individuals and companies and works with local charities including Age UK Kensington & Chelsea to ensure that donations reach those most in need. The Foundation relies on these local charity partners to help them decide on the criteria for donating money to individuals, to assess requests and to do follow up work.
The government has produced a leaflet called Keep Warm Keep Well.
The government scheme Green Homes Grant can help pay for insulation, double glazing and a host of other improvements with vouchers worth up to £5,000 to make homes more energy efficient
Have a look at the Energy Saving Trust website for lots of ideas on how to save energy.
The Department of Health has produced an easy-to-read leaflet which will help people with learning disabilities to understand more about the importance of staying warm
If you are particularly vulnerable during cold weather because of health problems or a disability then you can apply to go on a register which will ensure that you receive special attention in the event of a power cut in your area.
Kensington and Chelsea
The Homes4Health service for residents aims to help residents who struggle to heat their homes adequately during winter months and run the risk of cold related ill health.
Tel: 0300 365 5003 or Email: GreenDoctorsLDN@groundwork.org.uk or Online referral form
Westminster Council offers grants to people in Westminster to improve heating and insulation or to replace old kitchens and bathrooms.
They also have produced an advice leaflet for people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills and to stay warm.