The chances of these problems are higher if you're vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:
- you're over 60
- you're on a low income (so can't afford heating)
- you have a long-term health condition such as heart, lung or kidney disease
- you are disabled
The government's advice on staying warm over the winter aims to reduce cold-related illness and deaths. Key tips include:
- Keep your home warm. Your main living room should be between around 18-21C (64-70F) and the rest of the house at a minimum of 16C (61F). You can also use a hot-water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you're in bed.
- Wrap up warm, inside and out. Several thin layers of clothes are better than one thick layer. Don't forget to wear hats, gloves and scarves. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.
- Keep active. Move around at least once an hour and don't sit down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm.
- Look out for elderly friends and neighbours. Check they're safe and well through the winter. Make sure they're warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather.