On this page you’ll find top tips to help you and your family stay healthy and well this winter. Click on the links below to jump to the topic you’re interested in:
Stop the spread of viruses
Viruses like flu and COVID-19 can spread easily through surface contact. Germs from coughs and sneezes can survive on hands and surfaces for up to 24 hours.
You can also catch an illness by breathing in droplets from an infected person that has coughed or sneezed near you.
Following good infection prevention practice will help to reduce your risk of catching and spreading serious illnesses like flu and COVID-19, and less serious illnesses like the common cold or tummy bugs.
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, each time you come in. Wash your hands more frequently and be sure to keep household items clean if you’re living with someone who is ill.
- You can help prevent colds and flu spreading by using tissues to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.
- Keep household items clean, including cleaning such items as cups, glasses and towels. Wipe down high contact areas like light switches, door handles, and the handle of the tea kettle especially if someone in your house is ill.
COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, that’s why it’s important we continue to follow public health advice and following best-practice infection prevention behaviours.
Make movement a regular part of your day
Regular exercise, and even simply moving more throughout the day, can help to make your body warmer.
Here are some top ways you can keep yourself moving when you’re indoors:
- Don’t sit down in front of the computer or television for long periods of time without moving. Sitting still for long stretches makes your muscles tighten up and your circulation slow down. That means when you do get up from long stretches of sitting down you’re more vulnerable to having a fall.
- Break up your time spent being inactive by walking around your home or standing up from your chair and doing simple stretches during TV advert breaks or when you’re on the phone.
- Stretch out your arms and legs while you’re making a cuppa, holding onto the bench if you need support. Lifting light weights, such as a tin of beans or the milk carton, can help increase blood flow to your muscles too.
- There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, dancing, gardening, housework, or taking part in online fitness classes. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving.
- For ideas and videos to keep active at home visit activenorfolk.org/active-at-home
- Search for online fitness classes and face-to-face fitness classes in the Waveney area at https://www.activesuffolk.org/
- Search for online fitness classes and face-to-face fitness classes in the Norfolk area at https://www.everymove.uk/
- Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you are feeling any pain or lightheaded and make sure you drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
Prevent slips, trips, and falls
Trips and falls are more common in the winter months. The risk of accidents can be reduced by:
- Making sure that you’re wearing appropriate footwear for the weather/environment.
- Being aware of any medications that could affect balance. If you’re concerned about your medication, speak to your local pharmacist or GP.
- Staying fit with exercises to improve stability. Active Norfolk has a number of free falls prevention exercises and videos to help you get started.
- Drinking below or within the recommended alcohol limits.
- Seeing where we’re going – use a torch when walking in dark places and keep up to date with eye checks.
Here are some tips to make your home more trip-safe:
- Immediately mop up any spillages
- Remove clutter, trailing wires, and frayed carpet. Use non-slip mats and rugs where you can
- Keep all rooms, passages and staircases well lit
- Get help to do things you’re unable to do safely on your own
- Don’t walk on slippery floors in socks or tights
Look out for others who need help
Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the winter. There’s a lot you can do to help people who may struggle to keep warm, or go out to get the food and medicines they need during the winter. Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery, and cold weather can stop people from getting out and about.
Here are some things you can do to look out for those who may need help:
- Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they’re feeling under the weather.
- Make arrangements for who will help with food and medicines, and who can help older and frailer loved ones to winter-proof their home. Visit the Stay Warm this Winter page for help and advice.
- Make sure they’re stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days in case they can’t go out, and you can’t get to them.
- If they do need to go out in the cold, encourage them to wear shoes with a good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect them from the cold air, and to reduce their risk of chest infections.
- Make sure they get any prescription medicines before the Christmas holidays start and if bad weather is forecast. If they need help over the holiday period when the GP practice or pharmacy is closed or they’re not sure what to do, NHS 111 can help. The service is available online at 111.nhs.uk and also by calling 111.
Stay well-stocked with medicines and food
Check your Medicine Cabinet
You can help prevent a minor illness from developing into something worse by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
Many over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection (earache). Speak to your pharmacist about what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season.
Make sure your medicine cabinet has essentials like painkillers and cold and flu remedies to help see you through any closures.
For more information search ‘medicine cabinet’ on www.nhs.uk
Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for bank holidays.
Ask your pharmacist if they offer a prescriptions and medicines delivery service. If they do, be sure to get your order in before bank holidays and make sure you have spare medication in case you are unable to go out.
Don’t go to a pharmacy to collect your prescriptions if you have symptoms of COVID-19. You can order your prescriptions by calling your GP or pharmacy, or via prescriptions order line – Prescription Ordering Direct Service (POD). Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you if the weather is too bad for you to go out safely.
You can also order your repeat prescriptions via the NHS App, as well as make GP appointments. Search for the NHS App on the App Store and on Google Play. For more information visit www.nhs.uk/nhsapp.
If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed.
Food provides warmth and energy
Food is a vital source of energy and it helps to keep your body warm. Have plenty of hot food and drinks throughout the day.
Try to include 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Tinned and frozen vegetables count toward your 5 a day.
Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.
Think about how you will get your shopping if the weather is forecast to be bad. Ask a neighbour, family member or Community Hub to help.
Get your Flu and COVID-19 vaccines if you are eligible
To find out about the COVID-19 vaccination programme that is taking place across Norfolk and Waveney click here.
To find out more about flu vaccines and how to book click here.