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In the fifth of a series of articles looking at the work of Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, Priti Mistry offers advice on how older people can prepare themselves for the winter season

It is that time of the year again. Winter is upon us and already it is cold, and in most homes, the heating has been switched on. However, for some older people who are on a low income, they sadly end up leaving their heating off to make ends meet and to be able to manage their money. Therefore, I want to share some tips that will help us all to get through the colder days and months.

Test your heating
You don’t want to find out your heating isn’t working when you need it most, so it’s a good idea to get your heating system serviced every year in the build-up to winter to make sure it’s running safely and efficiently. Make sure gas heating is serviced by a qualified Gas Safe-registered engineer. If you’re a tenant, your landlord should check your heating system and appliances are safe at least once a year. If you own your home and are on means-tested benefits, you may qualify for a free annual safety check from your gas supplier (although this is not the same as a full service).

Extra food
Keep some extra food in the cupboard or freezer just in case you can’t get out to the shops. Also, if you’d rather stay indoors, you could do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your doorstep. Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering also offer a home support service (paid for) where we can go out and do shopping for you.

Water pipes
Water pipes can freeze and burst, so it’s important to know where your main stopcock is and check it’s easy to turn in case you have to turn the water off. If it’s jammed, you may need to replace it.

Slips and falls
To avoid a slip or a fall, keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to put on steps or paths when it’s icy out. You could try a local DIY shop, or get in touch with the council, as some provide free bags.

Dog walking
If you’re worried about walking your dog in icy weather, contact The Cinnamon Trust (call 01736 757 900). They may be able to match you with a dog-walking volunteer in your area.

Keep moving
Not only is staying active essential for your general wellbeing and fitness, it also generates heat and helps to keep you warm. When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and wander about, maybe spread out chores throughout the day. If walking is difficult, you can do chair-based exercises while sitting or holding on to the back of a chair. Even moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes can help you keep warm and well.

For more information on Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, call 020 8220 6000 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk
Author profile
Priti Mistry
Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering