Keeping warm in winter
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If you're homeless or concerned about a rough sleeper...
If you're homeless and need somewhere warm to sleep for the night then the homeless charity St Mungo’s can help with its pan-London emergency shelter.
If you're concerned about someone sleeping rough:
- Get in touch via St Mungo’s Street Concern service via www.streetconcern.org
- Contact No Second Night Out on 0870 383 3333
- In an emergency, contact 999 for emergency police or ambulance services
Hypothermia is a lowered deep-core body temperature of 35C/95F or below. It is the lowered temperature of the organs inside the body which is important - an ordinary thermometer cannot measure this.
You may not actually feel cold but if you sit in a cold room and do little or nothing to keep warm then you may run the risk of becoming hypothermic or becoming ill with bronchitis or pneumonia. Both are cold-related illnesses.
It's important to prevent people from becoming cold in the first place. Family, friends and neighbours in the community can look out for those who might be at risk from the cold. Prevention is always easier than cure.
Watch out for the danger signs
- Very cold skin on parts of the body normally covered, for example the stomach or armpits
- Slurred speech
- Absence of complaint about feeling cold, even in a bitterly cold room
If you are in doubt:
- move the person into warmer surroundings if possible
- wrap the person in a light layer of blankets or a duvet to avoid further loss of body heat
- give them warm nourishing drinks
- call the doctor or nurse
- do not subject the person to any sudden extreme change of temperature - so do not put them next to a fire or give them hot water bottles or heavy layers of clothes or blankets
- do not give them alcohol, as it will stimulate further heat loss through the skin
How can you help yourself keep warm?
Safety is important in all aspects of keeping yourself warm. Care should be taken when using electric blankets or filling hot water bottles. Never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together, as this is extremely dangerous and could give you an electric shock.
You may be entitled to some additional financial help, especially during periods of very cold weather. Please contact us for more information.
Looking out for trouble
If someone has been taken ill, they may not be able to attract attention of neighbours, passers-by or people who call at the door. Always be on the look-out for signs that something might be wrong, especially when the weather is cold.
There are many signs to look out for
- Milk not taken in late in the day
- Newspapers stuck in the letterbox
- Curtains drawn during the day
- Lights burning during the day
- Home in darkness when there should be someone at home
- Dog barking all day or the cat scratching to be let in
- Winter Fuel Payments are provided by the Pension Service to help people over 60 with their heating bills
If you receive an income related benefit, disability benefit or are aged 60 or over, then you may be eligible for a grant to improve heating in your home.
Help with home improvements
Warm Front Grant
The East London Warm Zone carries out door-to-door assessments on behalf of Waltham Forest. The aim is to identify residents who are entitled to heating measures, such as central heating and boiler installation. Their assessments also include a benefit check to ensure residents get all the benefits they are entitled to.
Residents receiving one or more of the benefits listed below:
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Income based job seekers allowance
- Working Tax Credit
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- War Disablement Pension
If you think you qualify for measures under this programme, telephone 0800 389 7286.
Home Energy Efficiency Training (HEET) is a not-for-profit organisation working in Waltham Forest. HEET carries out a range of energy efficiency and security works for vulnerable and elderly owner-occupiers and private tenants that can help make the home safer and warmer.
To find out if HEET can help you, please call 020 8520 1900 or visit the HEET project website for more information.
Homeowners and private tenants with any income can obtain cavity wall insulation and loft insulation at competitive rates.
For a free home survey, please call 0800 389 7286.
Looking after yourself
Central Government offers a variety of advice on looking after yourself during wintery weather:
The NHS offers health advice:
The Council’s Civil Contingencies Unit provide advice on planning for a major incident, this includes learning about risks and understanding how an emergency might affect you and how you can prepare for an incident, ensuring that you give yourself every chance of survival by being prepared.
- Information on being prepared for an emergency
- Preparing for emergencies information card for your wallet
Helping others during severe weather
Look out for others during bad weather. More people get ill in winter and the number of deaths increase, always keep an eye out for signs that something may be wrong:
- Milk not taken in late in the day
- Newspapers stuck in the letter box
- Curtains drawn during the day
- Home in darkness when there is normally someone in
- Dog barking all day
Clearing snow and ice yourself - Government advice
The law on clearing snow and ice from public spaces
There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces.
If an accident did happen, it's highly unlikely that you would be sued as long as you:
- are careful
- use common sense to make sure that you don't make the pavement or pathway clearly more dangerous than before
People using areas affected by snow and ice also have responsibility to be careful themselves.
Tips and advice on clearing snow and ice
- Start early - it's much easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it
- Don’t use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury
- Be a good neighbour - some people may be unable to clear snow and ice on paths from their property
- If shovelling snow, think where you are going to put it so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drainage channels
- Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on
- Spreading some salt on the area you have cleared will help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it
- Pay particular care and attention to steps and steep gradients
- Use the sun to your advantage - removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath; however you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight
- If there's no salt available, sand or ash are good alternatives
Driving in snow and ice
If possible, stay at home, during hazardous weather conditions. If you have to make a journey think about the following advice:
- Allow more time for your journey
- Check the weather forecast
- Clear all windows and mirrors of snow and ice using de-icer and a scraper - do not set off with just a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen
- Check the roof for snow before you drive - it can slip down over the windscreen and obscure your view
- Increase your braking distance
- Be aware that parts of your route may not have been gritted
- Keep all lights on your vehicle clean and working
- Check screen washers and wipers
- Make sure you have anti freeze in your radiator
- Ensure that your tyres are inflated
- Make sure you have the necessary kit with you in case you get stuck
Advice for businesses
Some businesses need to keep trading during winter weather periods. The continuation of their business depends on robust plans that ensure staff, premises and resources are correctly managed. Proper business continuity planning will give them a competitive advantage over their business rivals.
» More information on business continuity management