Winter Health

There are some things you can do to help yourself stay well in the winter.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:

  • if you're aged 65 and over 
  • babies and children under the age of 5
  • people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
  • people who have a long-term health condition
  • people with a disability
  • pregnant women
  • people who have a mental health condition

If you feel unwell you should get advice/medical help as soon as you feel unwell, especially if you're aged 65 or over, or in one of the other groups listed above. 

You can get help and advice from:

  • a pharmacy – pharmacists can give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses and can tell you if you need to see a doctor
  • your GP surgery – you may be able to speak to a clinician over the phone, or go in for an appointment if they think you need to
  • NHS 111 – go to or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do

In an emergency, call 999 or go to A&E immediately.

winter health


How to stay warm

The government's advice on getting ready for winter aims to reduce cold-related illness and deaths.  Key tips include:

  • Keeping your home warm.  Your main living rooms should be at least 18°C.  It's also good idea to keep your bedroom windows closed at night. Wearing several layers will keep you warmer than one, thicker layer.
  • There are grants, benefts and sources of advice available to increase your income, make your home more energy effcient and improve your heating. Age UK offer further advice on support measures or you can telephone them on 0800 169 6565. 
  • Check that your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they're working properly. You can find an engineer from the Gas Safe Register website.
  • Contact your water and power suppliers to see if you can be on the Priority Services Register. This is a free support service that helps people in vulnerable situations.
  • Keep in touch your friends and relatives and don't be afraid to ask for help or tell someone if you're feeling unwell. Also, check on older neighbours or relatives to make sure they are safe and well and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. 
  • Wear shoes that have a good grip if you need to go outside.
  • Try to keep moving when you're indoors, even if you just stretch your arms and legs.  This will help to keep you warm.
  • Make sure you have enough food and medication at home if bad weather is forecast. 
  • Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm so try to make sure you eat well and stay hydrated. 
  • If you are worried about a relative or elderly neighbour, contact their local council or Age UK helpline on 0800 678 1602

Age UK provide more information about how to stay warm and well in winter.


Cold weather benefits

You may be able eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you're receiving certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest. If you are eligible, you do not need to apply as these payments will be paid to you automatically, but you may need to tell Jobcentre Plus if you have a baby or if a child under 5 comes to live with you. 

If the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be zero degrees celsius or below, for more than 7 consecutive days, you will receive a payment.  You will receive £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November 2023 and 31 March 2024. Contact the Pension Service or Jobcentre Plus if you go into hospital as this could affect your payment. You can find out further information about the Cold Weather Payment here.

Cold Weather Payments are different to Winter Fuel Payments.  If you were born before 25 September 1957 you could get between £250 and £600 (Winter Fuel Payment) to help you pay your heating bills. The amount you will receive includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’ which is between £150 and £300. You will receive this extra amount in winter 2023 to 2024. This is in addition to any other Cost of Living Payments you receive with your benefit or tax credits.

You may qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. If you do qualify, the discount will not affect your Cold Wather or Winter Fuel Payments.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has advice on how to save money on your energy bills. 

Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations

Flu and COVID-19 are highly infectious illnesses that can spread rapidly.  It is therefore important to get your seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations if you are at higher risk of complications from these illnesses.