Staying well in cold weather

Cold weather can affect your health. The Met Office provides the weather forecasts for broadcasts on radio and TV, so listen in to these bulletins regularly to keep up-to-date with the weather. Severe weather warnings are also issued on the Met Office website.

There’s lots that you can do before the cold weather starts, such as having your boiler checked and making sure your home is insulated.  Islington Council has lots of advice and support on reducing energy use and saving money.

During cold weather, heating your room to at least 18°C (65°F) in winter poses minimal risk to your health when you are wearing suitable clothing.

If you have to go out, dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes. Lots of thin layers of clothes will keep you warmer than one thick layer.

Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.

The Islington cold weather text alert service sends free alert messages to a landline or mobile phone. The service is designed to help those suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to take practical measures to prepare for cold weather and to take simple steps during cold weather to reduce any harmful effects. Visit Islington’s website (also see the Find out more section below) or call Islington Council’s free helpline on 0800 9531221 or 020 7527 2121.

  • Help your neighbours in winter
    • Help your neighbours in winter

      Check on older 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.

  • Flu
    • Flu

      You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it’s especially common in winter, which is why it’s also known as “seasonal flu”.

      It’s not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer.

      You can help stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others with good hygiene measures.

      • Always wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, as well as:
      • Cleaning surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs
      • Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
      • Put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible

      A flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS for some people who may be particularly vulnerable:

      • anyone over the age of 65
      • pregnant women
      • anyone who is very overweight (with a body mass index over 40)
      • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
      • children and adults with weakened immune systems

      You can have your NHS flu jab at your GP surgery or a local pharmacy offering the service.

      The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November, but don’t worry if you’ve missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter if there are stocks left.

      An annual flu vaccine nasal spray is also now offered to healthy children aged two, three and four years old, and to children in school years one and two.

      For more information visit

  • Staying well in hot weather
    • Staying well in hot weather

      Stay well when it’s hot by:

      • avoiding the midday sun
      • having plenty of cold drinks (but not alcohol or drinks with lots of caffeine such as cola, coffee or tea)
      • putting on lots of sunscreen

      During heatwaves, when it’s really hot, day and night, it’s particularly important to keep cool. Babies and infants, older people and those with heart, breathing and other serious health problems are more likely to fall ill. If you’ve got a neighbour or friend who might be at risk, check that they’re alright.

      The Met Office warns of heatwaves – so check weather reports on your TV, radio, smartphone and online.

      Heatwave tips include:

      • applying a damp cloth or scarf to the back of your neck or splashing your face and the back of your neck with cold water several times a day
      • staying indoors in the coolest room in your home
      • reducing sunlight coming through the windows, for example with shutters. Metal blinds and dark curtains absorb heat and can make the room warmer, so it is better to use light-coloured curtains or reflective material
      • keeping windows closed when the room is cooler than outside
      • opening windows when the temperature inside rises and keeping them open at night to let cooler air in
      • having plenty of cold drinks
      • avoiding alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.

      Take care with food during hot weather. Bacteria multiply quickly, which increases the risk of food poisoning. Make sure that fresh food is kept in the fridge or, if away from home, in cool bags. As in any weather, wash salad and raw foods thoroughly.

      If you have a barbecue, make sure that food is cooked all the way through. The Food Standards Agency has advice on cooking a safe barbecue.