On Air

Alex Lester

Weather Advice

For pensioners living in hard to heat housing, cold weather brings with it the fear of high heating bills. Cold-related illness can be a problem too - we would urge people to wrap up warmly, use their heating, and make sure they have plenty of hot drinks and meals.

Neighbours and friends can play their part too. Offering to help with the shopping or to clear a path when the weather is bad can make all the difference for an older person. A little bit of extra thought can make sure that someone you know is ok in the cold spell.

Older people who need advice on staying warm and well this winter can call the Age Concern Information Line on 0800 00 99 66 for a free winter information pack.

Further Info

  • Although older people receive a winter fuel payment (£200 per household where someone is aged between 60 and 79; £300 per household where someone is aged 80 or over) and many have had central heating installed.
  • Around 2,500 excess winter deaths occurred in Scotland alone last winter.
  • Dampness, condensation and poorly insulated housing are still a major problem in some areas. Age Concern Scotland is also aware that difficulty understanding how to control central heating systems or worrying that it may be too expensive to operate can result in individuals living in conditions well below the recommended 21degrees C in the living room and 18 degrees C in other occupied rooms.

Stay Safe and Healthy

  • Winter always brings more coughs, colds, sore throats and flu– If you start to have the symptoms of flu or a heavy cold, stay at home, keep warm and take plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.


  • Make sure you have cold and flu medications in the house, as well as other basic first aid supplies such as painkillers, plasters, bandages and anti-diarrhoea medication. When stocking up with flu remedies, check first with your GP or pharmacist if you are on other medication to make sure the medicines are right for you.


  • NHS Direct – on 0845 4647 orwww.nhs.uk– is available 24 hours a day to give confidential advice and information on what to do if you, or a member of your family, are ill.


  • Your local pharmacist can advise you about minor medical problems. Check for the opening times at your nearest pharmacy or call your PCT for the latest information.


  • All GP surgeries offer an emergency out-of-hours service. If you call when the surgery is closed, keep a pen and paper handy and listen to the full message to take down the number of the GP’s emergency service which will.


  • For more serious injuries or illnesses, hospital Accident & Emergency departments are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including all bank holidays. Examples of serious injuries or illnesses include critical or life-threatening situations such as head injury, broken bones or dislocation, severe chest pain or breathlessness, choking and difficulty breathing, ingestion of toxic substances and severe bleeding.


  • The best way of warming up is to keep active, which is also good for the heart. A few gentle exercises at home can keep the blood flowing properly. Extra layers of clothing, including wearing a hat to go out, and regular hot drinks and meals are just what the doctor orders for the cold weather! Keep your home warm.


Water Pipe Protection Advice

  • Lag water pipes
  • Leave a key with neighbours or family if going away at the weekend
  • Leave heating on in properties at a low level at all times
  • Leave the attic hatch open to allow warmer air to circulate if pipes are  not properly insulated.
  • Know where your stop valve is in case of an emergency

If your pipes are frozen:

  • Thaw them out by gently by applying heat such as a hair dryer or warm water.
  • Never use a naked flame near flammable material or in the loft space. * If the pipe is part of the hot water system do not put it on.

If you have burst pipes:

  • Turn off the water at the main stop valve this is normally in the kitchen or in the street - find out where it is now.
  • Switch off the immersion heater or source of the heat.
  • Turn on all the taps and flush the toilet to empty the tank and pipes of water.
  • Should there be a risk of water penetrating the electrical systems switch off the electricity at the mains.