Think ahead and plan to stay well, warm and safe during the bitterly cold weather forecast over the coming days.
The Met Office has predicted what may be the coldest winter period the island has experienced in several years. Near or sub-zero temperatures are predicted to continue throughout the week and a significant wind chill factor from icy gusts could make it feel several degrees colder than thermometers indicate. A severe frost is likely and snowfall a possibility.
The Department of Health and Social Care is offering practical advice to the public to stay healthy and safe during the cold spell, with a focus on helping the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
Wintery conditions can make going out a hazard, particularly for elderly and vulnerable people. Keeping warm, avoiding slips and falls and eating a nutritious diet are key factors for staying healthy – and members of the public are encouraged to check on those living alone to ensure they have the supplies and support they need.
A dedicated page on the Government website offers plenty of advice and information on how to cope with a cold snap – from tips on heating your home to which roads are gritted.
Find it here: http://www.gov.im/winterhealth
Residents can take a number of steps to help themselves:
- Eat well and stay hydrated – Hot food and drinks keep you warm. Eat a varied, healthy diet with at least one hot meal a day and drink plenty of fluids to keep energy levels up. If you don’t like to venture out in cold or windy weather, stock up on basic food items and frozen foods to reduce visits to the shops. Try and include five portions a day of fruit and vegetables in your diet, and remember – frozen products are just as good as fresh as a source of vitamins.
- Dress for the weather – wear several thin layers of clothing rather than one thick layer. Choose shoes, boots and slippers with a good grip to prevent falls, and wear a scarf, gloves and hat outside to prevent heat loss.
- Heat your home effectively – heat at least one room to around 21°C (70°F), and remember to close curtains and doors to block drafts and stop heat escaping. Heating appliances should be regularly checked and used with adequate ventilation to avoid the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Energy saving tips for all at:
- At night – bedrooms should be heated to around 18°C (65°F). Electric blankets and cables should be checked for damage regularly and replaced at least every 10 years.
- Check your meds – ensure you have a supply of your prescription and keep stocks of over-the-counter remedies for sore throats, coughs, colds and stomach upsets.
- Keep active – take appropriate regular exercise (speak to your GP before commencing an exercise plan) and if indoors for lengthy periods, move around at least once an hour to increase circulation.
- Stop the spread of germs – ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’. Catch your coughs and sneezes in a tissue, Bin used tissues, Kill the germs by washing your hands thoroughly.
o Avoid the winter vomiting bug – wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet and before preparing food.
o Don’t rely on alcohol hand gels as they don’t kill the virus.
- Pharmacists – can offer advice and may be able to offer you medication under the Minor Ailments Scheme.
- Consider taking a vitamin D supplement – it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone and the sun isn’t strong enough during autumn and winter to give us the vitamin D we need through our skin.
- Watch the weather – keep an eye on forecasts through radio, television, internet or newspapers. Call 0900 624 3300 for a recorded forecast of visit http://www.gov.im/weather
- Can you help a fellow resident? Those who are fit and well can make a difference to the wellbeing of others – and in severe weather, some will need help.
Consider clearing snow or ice from pavements and paths, see if friends, family or neighbours who are left housebound by the weather need anything fetching and if you know anyone over 65, or with young children or with heart or lung conditions, check to see if they’re OK.
- Ask for help if you need it – contact friends, relatives, neighbours, your GP, social worker, district nurse or housing officer if you need support.
In a life-threatening situation, dial 999 immediately