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Be warned, winter is coming and it’s already taking hold on the country! It’s important to be prepared before the big freeze sets in. Forecasters have recently predicted a harsh winter, and it’s thought we could see similar conditions that we experienced in 2010/11. That year, temperatures dropped to -16°C in Wales and it was the coldest December for 100 years.

Because the last few Christmases have been mild, it’s easier to get caught out by a surprise cold snap. Though it’s tough to predict if the country will experience such adverse weather conditions, the risk warning has suddenly jumped by 30% this year.

The elderly, the disabled and low-income families are especially vulnerable during this time, so it’s crucial to follow a few simple guidelines. Look at our previous blog on how to get your home winter-ready and read on to see how the Government’s Keep Warm Keep Well campaign can help. We’ll take you through the financial help and benefits out there too.

Look after yourself and stay warm

Winter is a good time to stock up on tinned foods that last longer and can be heated up easily, in case you struggle to get to the local shops because of colder weather. Consider using a home delivery service such as Amazon Prime Now or one provided by other supermarkets, who will deliver groceries to your door with a specific time slot. Some do charge a fee but you can get free delivery slots at certain times. And what’s more, it will save you a journey to the shops if you struggle to get out.

While indoors, be sure to wear layers and keep warm. Try to move around, have warm drinks and avoid being still for long periods. Keep the rooms you use warm, and follow these temperature guides.

•  The ideal temperature for your living room is 21°C (that’s 70°F).

•  The ideal temperature for your bedroom is 18°C (64°F).

•  Keep bedroom windows shut at night.

Get checks done

This is the right time to get a health check and take advantage of a free flu jab if you’re entitled to it. Buy in some basic medicines for winter ailments like a sore throat and cold to help you get better before they worsen. A local pharmacist can give treatment advice on these, without the need for a doctor’s appointment.

Get your home checked too – have your gas appliances and the heating checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer to be certain they’re in good working condition. Contact your utility providers and see if they’ll add you to their Priority Services Register.

Get financial support

There are various Government schemes to help you get through winter, such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme, Cold Weather Payment, and Winter Fuel Payment. Also, don’t forget to go over your home and contents insurance terms and conditions to be sure you have the right cover during adverse weather conditions. You may want to consider ‘home emergency’ as an addition to your existing cover to protect you in case your boiler breaks down, pipes burst, or the roof is damaged.

Finally if you have a family member, neighbour or friend who might be vulnerable through winter, check on them to make sure they’re warm, stocked up on foods and healthy. Contact their local council or a charity like Age UK for further advice.

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