Cold weather guidance
There are some simple steps to getting ready for winter weather. Planning ahead can really help you and your family when the cold sets in.
Our winter programme of help for vulnerable people
Each year we work with partners to deliver the City Council's Stay Warm and Well in Derby program to try and help vulnerable people to keep warm, safe and well at home through the cold winter months.
Download the Stay warm and well in Derby this winter leaflet to find out about the type of support and assistance we offer.
Guidance and tips for staying healthy in winter
The best way to get through winter is to keep warm and to follow a healthy lifestyle:
- a balanced diet will help keep you warm and healthy in the winter
- wearing the right kind of clothes can help keep you much warmer
- staying active is good for your health.
The Department of Health has issued a guide 'Keep Warm - Keep Well' which offers advice on how to keep yourself warm. The leaflet also includes details for organisations offering practical solutions, financial assistance, and safety advice.
Top six cold weather tips
- Get your flu jab. If you’d prefer not to be laid low for a week or two, a flu jab is essential. It’s even more important to get it if: you’re aged 65 or over; you’re pregnant; you have certain medical conditions; you are immunocompromised; are a carer; live in a residential home
- Keep warm. Maintain your heating to the right temperature. Your bedroom should be at 18°C/65°F and the room you use in the day should be 21°C/70°F. Use room thermostats or other heating controls if you have them. Have a room thermometer so you can monitor the temperature indoors.
- Look after yourself and check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they are safe, warm and well. Layer your clothing and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside.
- Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.
- Get financial support. There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. You should claim all the benefits you are entitled to and to access these before winter sets in.
- Have your heating and cooking appliances checked for carbon monoxide leaks, and fit a carbon monoxide alarm. Make sure that flues and chimneys are swept and checked for blockages and ventilation points are not blocked. If you use heating oil, LPG or wood products as the main heating source, make sure that you have sufficient supply to avoid running out in winter.
Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle health.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) advises that everyone needs an average daily intake of 10 micrograms (400 international units).
They advise that:
- all people should consider taking a daily supplement (10 micrograms vitamin D) during autumn and winter months.
- people whose skin has little to no exposure to sunlight and ethnic minority groups with dark skin, from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, should consider taking a vitamin D supplement all year round.
Whilst sunlight is a key source of vitamin D, people may not meet the daily recommendations due to:
- low levels of light during winter
- increased time indoors – this includes if people are following guidance to stay at home, or if they are shielding or self-isolating
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can access free supplements containing the recommended daily amounts. Residents in care homes and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered a short supply of free vitamin D through a government service expected to start in January 2021.
There have been some reports about vitamin D potentially reducing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19), however there is currently insufficient evidence. As research is ongoing, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) are working together to re-review the evidence on vitamin D and COVID-19. Whilst we wait for the results to be published, it is important that we consider the current UK government advice on vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health.
Further information about Vitamin D can be found on the NHS website.
Each year the flu vaccine is offered to people most at risk of flu. This year it is particularly important because if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill. If you've had COVID-19, it's still important to have the flu vaccine. It is safe and will be effective at helping to prevent flu. Find out if you are eligible and what to do if you are asked to wait for the flu vaccine.
Before the onset of cold weather:
- check that your home is adequately insured and that everything that you want to be covered is covered.
- make sure your property is in good order.
- learn how and where to turn off your water, electricity and gas supplies.
- collect and maintain a 'home emergency pack'.
For more information, visit our COVID guidance web section.
Home emergency pack
Keep enough of the following in your house to last all of you at least two days:
- Lighting (torch/candles) and spare source of power (batteries for example)
- Cooking equipment (including tin opener, utensils and cutlery)
- Drink (cans of juice, bottled water)
- Long life food (check use-by dates and refresh supplies regularly)
- Portable radio and spare batteries
- Dry clothing
- Medication (including baby items).
If you discover or experience an emergency situation dial 999
When you dial 999 the first person to answer will be an operator who will ask what emergency service you require. They will ask for your telephone number because if your line is cut or you are unable to continue the call, the operator can trace where you are and send assistance. Please do not ring the emergency services unless it is a genuine 999 matter.
Living in cold conditions can put you at risk of serious health conditions, such as hypothermia. Hypothermia happens when you get too cold and your body temperature drops below 35C. It's a medical emergency that needs to be treated in hospital. If you or someone you care for show symptoms such as slurred speech, slow breathing, tiredness or confusion, you should call 999 and provide as much detail as possible, or use:
In non-urgent situations, NHS 111 online can help you find the best place to access medical help if you are unsure. If you do not have internet access you can call 111 from a mobile or landline. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are deaf you can contact the NHS 111 BSL Interpreter service or call 18001 111 from a textphone.
When severe weather is forecast
- check the TV news, radio, Met Office website and newspapers for the latest information and early warnings
- stock up on essentials such as the suggested home emergency pack
- be a good neighbour and pass on warnings to those who may have missed the warnings, and check on the elderly and infirm.
During severe weather
- check the TV, radio, Met Office website and newspapers for the latest information
- make essential journeys only
- if you must travel, make sure that you are fully prepared for all events and conditions
- obtain a weather forecast and if possible determine the road conditions for the journey you are going to take
- offer assistance to less able neighbours
- Wrap up warm in several thin layers
- conserve energy by using one room and maintaining its temperature at 15° - 20° Celsius (60° - 70° Fahrenheit)
- have at least one hot meal a day
- fill some clean containers with fresh water in case supply fails.
More information about enjoying a better home environment can be found on our page The Healthy Housing Hub