The essential winter safety tips for seniors

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  • Winter is coming, which means so is the risk of coughs, colds and even flu. But by taking some extra precautions, you and your loved ones can stay well through the colder season.

    1. Get a flu jab
    If you’ve ever had flu, you’ll know how awful it can make you feel and getting the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. The jab is free to everyone age 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions, anyone who’s the main carer for an elderly or disabled person and to pregnant women.

    Some young children are eligible for the free, quick and effective nasal spray. Ask your GP or pharmacist for more information on how to get your free flu vaccination.

    2. Stay warm
    If you can, heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), you might prefer to have your living room slightly warmer. Keep bedroom windows closed on cold nights and wear several thin layers of clothing.

    Make sure you’re receiving all the help that you’re entitled to. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills at

    Also, keep active when you’re indoors, and try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

    3. Use your pharmacy
    If you start to feel ill, even with a cold or a cough, don’t wait until it gets worse. Instead, act quickly and ask your pharmacist for advice. The sooner you get to a pharmacist the better.

    Remember to get your prescription medicines before Christmas Eve when many GPs and pharmacies will close for the holidays. And take any prescribed antibiotics or other medicines as directed.

    4. Check your medicine cabinet
    Your pharmacist can advise you on which medicines you should have in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.

    5. Check your heating
    It’s important to check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they’re operating properly. Go to and get a carbon monoxide alarm fitted, and check your smoke alarm too. The Fire Service offers a free Home Fire Safety Check, visit for more info.

    6. Stock up
    Stock up. Get some supplies in now to make sure you’ll have a well-balanced diet even when you can’t get to the shops. Frozen and tinned veg count as part of your five-a-day, but it’s best to look for versions with no added sugar or salt.

    Have a few ready meals in the freezer, but check the labels and choose ones lower in salt, fat and sugar. Don’t forget that basics, like lower-fat milk, bread and fat spreads can be frozen!

    7. Stay safe outdoors
    Fit secure grab-rails alongside steps, and have a supply of salt or sand to help clear ice. A pair of over-the-shoe anti-slip ice grippers are handy.

    8. Keep in touch
    Ask friends and family to call in more often. If you are a carer, or have an elderly neighbour, relative or friend, check on them regularly.

    To find out more about ways to stay well this winter, visit