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Stay warm, well and safe this winter

Follow our winter safety advice to keep your family safe, warm and healthy during the cold weather.

Welcome Spaces - are somewhere you can go to get warm, stay warm and enjoy a little company. In some, you'll also be able to get refreshments. 

With many people feeling the pressure because of increased energy costs and the rising cost of living, our Welcome Spaces network aims to support residents across County Durham this winter. Our Welcome Spaces are free and will let you stay for as long, or for as short a period as you wish (within their opening hours).

Find out more at Welcome Spaces

Winter essentials

Keep warm, well and well hydrated

Winter Support transcript (PDF) [82KB]

Staying warm

You and your body:

  • Stay active - keep moving, even if you're sitting down. Just wiggling your fingers and toes will help you keep warm. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so indoors - get up and stretch your legs.
  • Eat well - make sure you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day to keep your body warm.

Your home:

  • Try to keep your heating to a constant temperature of between 18°C and 21°C during the day and at least 18°C at night.
  • Keep bedroom windows closed; breathing cold air can increase the risk of getting a chest infection.
  • Think about other ways of keeping warm like closing the curtains, hot water bottles or electric blankets. 

Your energy supply:

  • Check if you qualify for a grant to have a boiler replacement, insulation or other energy saving measures installed. Find out more - see our Help with your heating and energy bills information.
  • Contact your energy supplier and make sure you are on the right energy tariff.

Staying well

  • Catch it, bin it, kill it - stop the spread of germs. Use a tissue and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Visit NHS: Stay well this winter for information to keep you and your family healthy during the winter period.
  • Have a supply of your prescription drugs and other medicine. You can order your repeat prescriptions online. To sign up to GP online services ask at your practice or visit NHS: Start using online services.
  • Consider Care Connect - our community alarm service, our 24 hour emergency contact alarm service that can help you to call for assistance if you have an accident or fall at home. They help you feel safer at home, and remain independent for longer, giving peace of mind to your family and friends.
  • Receive a free home fire safety visit from your local fire station staff. They will come to your home to chat about how to keep you and your family safe from fire. This includes checking you have working smoke alarms to using electrical items and planning a safe escape in an emergency. To request a visit, please go to Safelincs: online home fire safety check or ring 0345 223 4221 (Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm) to book a visit.

Staying well hydrated

Drinking enough helps us feel well both mentally and physically - when we get dehydrated, we can suffer from: headaches, cold hands, dry mouth and lips, falls and bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Anyone can become dehydrated, but some groups are particularly at risk. These include:

  • babies and infants
  • older people
  • people with a long-term health condition - such as diabetes or alcoholism

You should drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash, decaffeinated hot drinks, soup and fruit juice to stay hydrated. The key is to drink regularly throughout the day (at least 6-8 mugs). Alcohol doesn't count because it can make the body more dehydrated.

If you are visiting someone elderly or vulnerable, ask them when they last had a drink and consider making them one before you leave, to help them stay hydrated.

Look out for your neighbours

  • If you notice that an elderly or vulnerable neighbour has not been out for a few days or hasn't opened their curtains, check in on them and see if they are ok.
  • If you are worried about someone contact Social Care Direct (adults) or First Contact (children and young people).
  • Hypothermia is a danger in cold weather. Look after elderly and vulnerable people, make sure they are heating their house correctly. If you think someone has hypothermia, call 999 for an ambulance immediately.

Winter advice

Stay safe and warm outdoors

  • Dress for the weather and wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Well-fitting boots and shoes with a good grip are the most effective way to stay warm and prevent a fall.
  • Use a walking aid if it helps you stay steady and safe.
  • Always be careful when driving in snow and ice
  • Have salt/grit/cat litter for driveways and paths, a snow shovel and other snow removal equipment. See our Salt bins information to find out where your nearest salt bin is. 

Before you travel

Be prepared

  • Keep a water supply in case a pipe bursts. Follow Northumbrian Water's beat the freeze advice to avoid burst water pipes, and know where to turn off your water.
  • Have a week's worth of food supplies, including bread in the freezer, long-life milk and non-cook foods. If you live far from other people, have more supplies on hand.
  • Keep an 'In Case of Emergency' record of who to call and let them know they are your emergency contact.
  • Keep blankets handy in case of a power cut, so you can stay warm.

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