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Are You Ready For Winter In Your Supported Living Home?

As the dark nights surround us, thoughts inevitably turn to winter.  Do you remember last year with the drifts of snow?  Well getting ready for winter is easy with our tips to prepare yourself, prepare your supported living home, and create an emergency plan.  Take a look at a quick video to get you thinking in a winter frame of mind!


How To Find Weather Warnings 

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, through the Met Office Twitter feed, or you can ring the Weather Desk on 0870 900 0100.  


Preparing For Winter In Housing With Support

Getting ready for winter is easier than you think. There are a number of things that you can do before any extreme weather comes; you will be prepared for anything!  First of all keep a list of the telephone numbers of the people and organisations you might need to contact in an emergency such as:

  • NHS 111, dial 111
  • Environment Agency - Flood and extreme weather, dial 0845 988 1188
  • Work
  • Support worker or provider (they might have an emergency on-call number)
  • Housing officer and provider
  • Social or health worker
  • Carers
  • Family members
  • Neighbours
  • Gas and electricity boards
  • Emergency services, dial 999

Now the telephone numbers are out of the way, let's get on with preparing your home.  So that you do not need to leave the house it is a good idea to keep enough food and water and other essentials for at least three days.  To decide what sort of things you think you will need you could speak to a friend, family member or support worker about this.  But the government have suggested a list to choose from:

  • Battery radio with spare batteries, or a wind up radio
  • Battery torch with spare batteries, or a wind up torch
  • First aid kit
  • Copies of documents such as your birth certificate and insurance policies
  • Bottled water and ready-to-eat food that will not go off.  Make sure you have a can opener!
  • Spare keys to your home
  • Spare glasses or contact lenses
  • Toiletries and important medicines
  • Pencil and paper, penknife, whistle
  • Pet supplies

You should also make sure outside lights are working.  Be extra careful when putting bins out in the winter; dark nights plus slippery steps can lead to accidents.

There are a lot myths around the shovelling of snow outside your home.  If you are in any doubt you should telephone your housing provider, often they will do this for you.  But one thing you should not doubt is shovelling snow can be strenuous work and you should ensure that you are able, fit and well and take regular breaks.  When clearing paths you should follow this advice provided by 'Ready Scotland':

  • Do not use hot water. This will melt the snow, but may well replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Choose suitable clothing for the task, e.g. footwear that provides a good grip.
  • Do not take unnecessary risks in the road.  Traffic will find it difficult to stop quickly in icy conditions.
  • When clearing snow and ice, wear visible clothing that helps traffic to see you.
  • If shovelling snow, think about where you are going to put it, so that it does not block people's paths or simply shift the problem elsewhere.
  • Make sure it will not cause problems when it melts.  Piling snow over gullies or drains may stop melting snow from draining away and allow it to refreeze.
  • Clear a small path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a safe surface to walk on.  You can then shovel from the centre to the sides.
  • Spread some grit on the area you have cleared to prevent ice forming.  If necessary, ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass.  Don't use too much; a tablespoon for each square metre cleared will be enough.  It will take a little while to work.  If there is no salt available, then a little sand or ash can be used. It will not have the same de-icing properties as salt but should offer grip under foot.
  • Use the sun to your advantage.  Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice beneath, but you will need to cover any ice with salt to stop refreezing overnight.
  • Salt can be washed away by further snowfalls or rain and then refreeze, leaving black ice.  If this happens more salt should be used soon after the rain has stopped and before temperatures reach freezing.
  • Particular care and attention should be given to steps and steep slopes.  Additional salt could be used in these areas to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • Try to sweep up any excess grit, sand or other substances used come the thaw, to prevent these from blocking drains.

There is no law preventing you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside or on paths to your house.  Provided you are careful, work within your abilities, use common sense and don't do anything which would be likely to cause harm or distress to others, it is highly unlikely that you will be found responsible for any accidents.  But again if you are in any doubt have a chat with your housing provider or officer.

And let's get you ready for winter too.  Have you had your flu jab this year?  Some people are advised get an injection to help stop them getting flu.  These people are usually aged 65 or over, pregnant, or have certain medical conditions.  Talk to your support worker or doctor if you think this applies to you.

But even if you don't get a jab, there are things to do that will help to keep you healthy where coughs and colds are concerned.  If you can, use tissues if you get a cold, and throw these into the bin after each use.  Wash your hands after sneezing or blowing your nose; good hand hygiene can stop the spread of germs.

If you should feel ill then you could check the NHS website for information on flu, sneezing and the common cold.  Of course you can visit your pharmacist, ring your doctor if you are unsure, or ring 999 if it is an emergency.

Next, take a look at what you are wearing and ask yourself, 'Are my shoes in good condition and do I have the right clothing for this time of year?'  Well-gripping shoes can help to prevent falls in cold weather.  Also wearing the right kind of clothes can help keep you much warmer.  Layers are best; t-shirts and under clothes will help to keep the base of your back warm and encourage heat from your core.


Staying Safe

Should the snow and ice return and it is not safe to go out, the advice is usually to keep safe and warm by:

  • Thinking about your heating.  If you can't heat all your rooms, make sure you keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed.  Ideally, you should try and keep your heating on at least low in all rooms to prevent your pipes from freezing.
  • Eating a balanced diet will help keep you warm and healthy in the winter.  
  • Making sure you eat at least one hot meal a day.  Soup is nutritious and warming, and cheap to make or buy.
  • Staying active which is good for your health.  If the weather prevents you from getting outside, stay active indoors - catch up on all the household tasks you've been putting off!
  • Talking - especially if you've been stuck in the house for a few days.  Lift the phone and call friends and family for a chat.


Going Out

It is always a good idea to do some basic preparation before you leave your home.  If you are leaving your home for a long time, and there’s time to gather them safely, you should think about taking:

  • Essential medicines
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Spare clothes and blankets
  • Pets

But before setting out on any journey, think about how severe weather could impact on you.  Being prepared only takes a few simple steps.  If you are planning a journey that requires transport:

  • Fully charge your mobile phone as you might need a means of contacting your family, friends or support system
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions
  • Consider public transport as an alternative.  Then check out Traveline (0871 200 22 33) to see if there are any delays or disruptions to services
  • Dress for the outdoor conditions
  • For a long journey, carry a small snack and some water if possible
  • Allow extra time for your journey
  • Tell someone where you're going and what time you expect to be there or back


Winter And Cold Weather Payments

You might be able to claim extra amounts of money during this season, but it all depends on what benefits you are receiving.  One pot of money is called the Winter Fuel Payment and is paid to help with the cost of heating bills.  Then there is another payment that you might be eligible for which is called the Cold Weather Payment; the Direct.gov.uk website is a great source of advice, but basically says that:

'(Cold weather) payments are made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.  You’ll get a payment of £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.'

Ordinarily you will get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit.)  This money is usually paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments.  If you qualify but you haven't received any payment you will need to make a claim.  

You might like to discuss your benefits payments with your social worker, benefits officer or us at T.P Properties - we're always happy to help, and have sorted out many benefits claims and appeals. However, sometimes there are free winter money saving and information events scheduled up and down the country as part of the work of Healthwatch England.

So feeling toasty warm and ready come hail, snow or frost?  You should be!


[Website acknowledgement] The following websites were used and information obtained in order to construct the information listed above.  Please refer to the sites in full for further details on how to keep warm and safe during the cold winter months.



...tips to prepare yourself, prepare your home, and create an emergency plan.
Winter safety in supported living homes
Let it snow!