23rd January 2022

Winter is coming, be prepared!

The NHS want to encourage Somerset’s residents to get ready for winter early this year, by taking measures now to ensure they stay safe throughout the cold weather this winter.

Cold weather is a major risk factor for falls and traffic accidents and it can also aggravate existing health conditions, particularly respiratory disorders. It is therefore vitally important that you look after yourselves and each other by making preparations now, minimising the cold weather’s impact on you in the future.

Dr Ed Ford, Chair, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP in Minehead said: ‘Winter can be an especially difficult time for people, especially for those living with long term conditions, the elderly and people living with disabilities. It is therefore important that those who are able to help those who are less capable do so. 

“There are some simple things we can all do to help everyone stay well this winter. For example, make sure that your elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives are keeping their home warm (at least 18 degrees), have enough food in the house and are wearing appropriate clothing for the weather. For those living alone, the risk is higher still. If you have an elderly neighbour who lives alone, please check in on them every now and then to make sure they are OK – just a quick chat is all that’s needed.

“At the first sign of a winter illness, whether it be a cough, cold or a sore throat, don’t suffer in silence – make sure you go to your local pharmacist for advice. Your local pharmacist is clinically trained and can offer you expert advice and recommend a range of over the counter treatments and remedies. And if they think you need to see a nurse or doctor, they’ll tell you.

“The easiest way to make sure you stay well this winter is by having the flu jab. The flu jab is free to everyone who meets the criteria. You should have the flu jab if you are 65 years old or over or:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have certain medical conditions
  • Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • Receive a carers allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.

“Children in primary school, children aged between 2 and 3 years old and children over the age of 6 months with a long-term health condition are also eligible for the flu jab.

“I’d encourage anyone who meets the criteria above (or whose children or loved ones meet the criteria) to talk to their GP practice or pharmacist for more information about how they can get their free flu jab.”

Ed added: “Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu jab. Together with our health and care partners across Somerset we’ll be encouraging all eligible staff to have the flu jab this year – to help us all stay well this winter.”

Winter is coming, so make sure you’re ready!