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Keep Warm, Keep Well This Winter

Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (MECCG) is reminding residents to keep warm and well over the next few weeks, as the region braces itself for the arrival of wintry weather.

 

There were nearly 44,000 “excess” winter deaths – more than the usual number expected for the population – in England and Wales in 2014/15. This was the highest number since 1999/2000, with 27% more people dying in the winter compared with non-winter months1.

The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over. There were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 751.

Between 2013/14 and 2014/15 male excess winter deaths increased from 7,210 to 18,400, and female deaths from 10,250 to 25,500 between 2013/14 and 2014/151.

Respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of all excess winter deaths in 2014/15. Winter-related injuries also resulted from slips and trips on icy ground, with fractured and broken bones sometimes leading to further complications such as blood clots and pressure sores.

It has been estimated that for every degree the average weather temperature changes, there is a rise or fall in the number of deaths. That’s why it is vital people, particularly the elderly and those with respiratory conditions keep warm and safe.

MECCG is providing five top tips to help you do that. Some may seem obvious, but they could help you to stay warmer and maintain good health over the coming weeks.

1. Heat your home well
By setting your heating to the right temperature – between 18C (64F) and 21C (70F) – you can still keep your home warm and lower your bills. If you feel cold at night, use a hot water bottle or electric blanket, but never use both together.

2. Eat well and have plenty of fluids
Food and water are vital sources of energy, and they help keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly through the day.

3. Get a flu jab
You can get free flu jabs to protect against seasonal flu from your GP or local pharmacy if you are over 65, pregnant, or have a long-term condition.

4. Look after yourself and others
On cold days, try to avoid going outside. However, if you do need to go out, remember to wrap up warm and take care on slippery surfaces. If you have an older neighbour or relative, look out for them during the winter to make sure they are safe and well.

5. Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked
If you’re on medication, make sure you get your repeat prescriptions in time so you don’t run out. If you haven’t already, talk to your GP practice about registering for Patient Online. Simply complete the paperwork and you’ll be able to request repeat prescriptions online as well as make GP appointments. Check to make sure you have enough over-the-counter remedies for coughs and colds so you don’t need to leave home unless you have to.

Dr Caroline Dollery, who chairs MECCG, said: “Encouraging people to keep warm and healthy during the winter is one of our key priorities, particularly for older residents and those that spend all day at home.

“The five top tips show that just a few simple measures can help protect you and your family from winter-related illnesses and incidents.”

For more information on staying will this winter, visit NHS Choices Stay Well website.