Although winter weather and snow can be fun, it is also associated with an increase in illnesses and injuries. There’s more to feeling ‘under the weather’ than most people realise. Cold and wintry conditions can cause severe illness and, in the worst cases, people can die. The cold weather, combined with low levels of sunlight after the clocks go back, means that many of us can feel in poor health.
When the temperature drops to below 8C, some people are at increased risk of heart attack, stroke, flu, pneumonia, falls and injuries and hypothermia. Cold weather can also affect people with mental health conditions, such as depression and dementia.
Keep yourself warm
Keeping warm, both inside and outdoors, over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
• Wear several layers of light clothes, as these trap warm air better than one bulky layer
• Heat your home to at least 18C (65F)
• Stay active – try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
Keep out the cold at night
Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights. Breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.
You can also do your bit for the local community as the weather gets colder by keeping an eye on elderly neighbours or relatives to make sure they’re safe and well. 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. Many are too proud to ask for help, but they may need it.
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