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Keep warm in winter

We want to make sure you stay safe and well this winter.

Every winter vulnerable and older people die unnecessarily due to the cold. Many deaths and illnesses can be prevented by keeping homes warm and dry.

We'll do all we can to maintain essential services such as home care and support services for older, disabled and vulnerable people who usually receive our catering service.

And we'll be working around the clock together with other organisations including the NHS and voluntary groups to make sure help reaches the people who need it the most.

But there are a few simple steps you can take yourself and to help others. You could be a snow buddy during winter months - checking on elderly and disabled neighbours and relatives to make sure they're OK, with enough heat and food.

And you can also help by clearing snow and ice from paths and driveways so care services can reach people who need help.

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Tips on how to keep warm and safe in winter weather

Stay warm

Have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.

The most important time to heat your home is first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, as your house will lose a lot of heat overnight.

Older and more vulnerable people should try to keep their homes heated to above 18°C.

If you have concerns about keeping your home heated then find out about help with energy bills.

If you use an electric blanket, have it serviced at least every 3 years.

Layering up clothing is a good way to keep yourself warm. Wear several light layers of clothing rather than one chunky layer.

Draw your curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts.

Keep as active as possible during the day.

Make sure central heating boilers are serviced regularly, chimneys are swept regularly if you have an open fire, and paraffin heaters are thoroughly cleaned, with the wick checked and trimmed.

Be especially aware of fire safety, particularly if you are planning to use portable heaters, open fires or stoves. Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms and test them every week.

Maintain portable gas heaters, and check electric fires are fitted with the right fuse and don't have frayed or damaged cables.

Check portable heaters have a safety guard and don't place them near furniture, beds or curtains.

Stay well

Keep plenty of food in your cupboards and stock up on supplies such as heating oil if you use it

Check you are up-to-date with all your winter vaccinations including the COVID-19 booster and flu jab.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you or someone you look after has an adequate supply of any prescription medicines in the event of bad weather.

Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia which include shivering, lips going blue, slurred speech and lack of co-ordination.

Wet socks can be uncomfortable and lead to health issues, so make sure to dry off your feet immediately after being outside in cold weather.

Your blood pressure will rise when you move from a warm place to a cold place. That's because low temperatures cause blood vessels to temporarily narrow. If you have heart or breathing conditions, then you could put yourself at risk if exposing yourself to extremes of temperature.

Stay safe

Check you have well-gripping shoes to prevent falls in cold weather. Wear several layers of clothes to stay warm and remain active in your home

Look out for neighbours. If you have an elderly neighbour or relative, look out for them in the winter months to ensure they have enough heat, food and necessary medication

Keep an eye out for bogus officials who may call door-to-door without an appointment claiming to be from heating supply, or other companies, checking for problems caused by the cold weather. Always check the identity of the callers to your home and if in doubt call the police.

Do not walk on ice-covered lakes, ponds or rivers when walking your dog or by yourself. If you see a person or animal fall through the ice do not try and rescue them, tel: 999 immediately and ask for the fire and rescue service.

Warn children about the dangers of open water and ice. Even a short exposure to freezing water can be fatal.

Sign up to the Met Office severe weather alerts.

For staying safe on the roads during bad weather:

  • in icy conditions slow down, steer gently and avoid harsh breaking
  • check your lights are working and your windscreen washer is full
  • if going on a long journey, take a shovel, torch, boots, warm clothing, food, a hot drink and a charged mobile phone

Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or people with serious illnesses. If you're concerned about anyone please Call Derbyshire, tel: 01629 533190. In an emergency tel: 999.

Protect your property

Here are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent problems later:

  • check that pipes are adequately lagged
  • check that you have ordered your winter heating fuel
  • get your chimney or flue swept
  • get a supply of grit to use on paths and steps around your property
  • stock up on tinned food and supplies for your freezer
  • check that you know where your stop tap is located - in case a pipe bursts
  • test your central heating - get your boiler serviced and make sure radiators are hot from top to bottom
  • if you have a condensing boiler, check that the external pipe is insulated
  • be especially aware of fire safety - particularly if you are planning to use portable heaters, open fires or stoves - install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms and test them every week

If you're looking for a for a local trader to help prepare your home for winter, or make repairs, you can find reputable businesses on our Trusted Trader list. Or you can contact Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190.

Energy bills

If you're worried about your energy bills you're not alone. We have advice about how you can reduce the amount of energy you use and save some money.

If you can't afford the energy you need or are in debt with your energy supplier, there is help available. We've got lots of advice about help with energy bills.

If you think you'll struggle to stay warm and afford your energy bills you can contact Warmer Derby and Derbyshire, tel: 0800 677 1332. This free energy helpline offers impartial advice on how to stay warm at home, afford energy bills and be more energy efficient.

Householders across the county might be eligible for financial help with a new boiler, money off their energy bills, help with energy bill debt, or a home visit for more advice.

If you have a health condition that is made worse by the cold and you struggle to afford to heat your home, the Healthy Homes Project may be able to help or can direct you to other sources of support, tel: 01629 536919.

Four steps to avoid fuel debt

  1. Improve the energy efficiency of your home.
  2. Check that you are claiming all of the benefits that you are entitled to.
  3. If you're unable to pay your bill contact your supplier and let them know.
  4. Provide your supplier with a monthly meter reading to ensure you receive an accurate bill.

Community oil buying scheme

Rural Action Derbyshire operates a community oil buying scheme that provides people who use oil to heat their house with the opportunity to obtain it at a lower price. This scheme operates across Derbyshire and is open to individuals and businesses.

For more information tel: 01629 824797.

Independent Age - how will you be keeping warm?

Independent Age provide an information leaflet 'Being Winter Wise.' It offers advice on staying warm and well during the colder months, including information about cold weather payments.

You can also order free copies to provide to your neighbours, friends and family to make sure they're able to cope with the cold.

Visit Independent Age to find out more and to order your free copies.

Energy Company Obligation Flexible Eligibility (ECO4 Flex)

Under the government's Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) scheme, energy suppliers are able to achieve up to 50% of their obligation by installing energy saving measures in owner-occupied or private rented households declared eligible by themselves or local authorities.

This mechanism, known as 'ECO4 Flex', allows local authorities to make declarations determining that certain households meet the eligibility criteria. ECO4 Flex is optional, and neither energy suppliers nor local authorities are obliged to participate. ECO4 will be a 4-year scheme and is intended to run to 31 March 2026.

Derbyshire residents may receive mailings or flyers from companies or lead generators offering measures under ECO4. The measures include heating and insulation improvements as well as renewable energy systems.

The companies or lead generators will check whether residents meet the national or local eligibility criteria. Those who may qualify through Derbyshire's local eligibility criteria (see statement of intent for ECO4) are asked by the company or lead generator to provide evidence of eligibility and to sign an agreement to share data.

The company or lead generator then submits an application form to the local authority and if the eligibility criteria are met and the correct evidence provided, a 'Local Authority Declaration' is provided to them.

The declaration doesn't entitle you to any grant, which is at the discretion of the installation companies and is subject to a home survey.

We don't oversee ECO or endorse any installation companies. ECO is administered by OFGEM and all installers working on the scheme must be registered with TrustMark. Residents must ensure the installation company proposing to carry out works under ECO is a TrustMark Registered Business for the works being carried out.

For information on ECO, email or tel: 01629 536919 and leave a message.