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.
Here are some tips on how to keep warm and safe in the winter weather:
- 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
- have regular hot drinks and at least one hot meal a day - eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
- warm your bed and bedroom before turning in for the night - your bedroom should be kept above 18°C overnight
- keep plenty of food in your cupboards and stock up on supplies such as heating oil if you use it
- check you have had your flu jab if you are aged 65 or over, pregnant, have certain medical conditions, live in a residential or nursing home or are the main carer for an older or disabled person
- check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you or someone you look after has an adequate supply of any prescription medicines
- if you use an electric blanket, have it serviced at least every 3 years
- 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
- 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
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.
Take a look at the steps you can take to protect your property this winter. Visit our list of Trusted Traders to find legitimate traders such as plumbers to fix burst water pipes. Or you can contact Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190.
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.
You may be entitled to winter fuel payment. Most people will receive this money automatically.
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.
Forces for Warmth delivers energy advice to East Midlands veterans. An individual can access the support directly by contacting the Royal British Legion tel: 0808 802 8080 and advising they need support with managing their fuel bills.
Four steps to avoid fuel debt
- Improve the energy efficiency of your home.
- Check that you are claiming all of the benefits that you are entitled to.
- If you're unable to pay your bill contact your supplier and let them know.
- Provide your supplier with a monthly meter reading to ensure you receive an accurate bill.
Priority services register
It's really important that both your supplier and distribution network operator (DNO) know if you are in a vulnerable situation so they can include you on their priority services register.
This includes people who are of pensionable age, have children under 5, have a disability or long-term medical conditions.
Being on the register means that you'll be prioritised in the event of a power cut and you'll receive additional non-financial services such as password security or information in different formats.
If you have difficulty contacting your supplier, you can register with your DNO first and when prompted give permission for your data to be shared with your gas and electricity supplier. You can find your DNO's contact details on your fuel 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.