There are many ways to keep safe and healthy during severe weather conditions. Here are some suggestions and links to help you to do this.

Keeping warm

One of the best ways to stay healthy over the winter months is to keep warm. It can help prevent colds, flu or more severe health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.   Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.  Make sure you’re receiving all the help to heat your home that you are entitled to. Find out more here: nhs.uk/staywell

The NHS has many suggestions of how to keep warm and well this winter.

Find out about tips to deal with 10 common winter illnesses that can be triggered or made worse by cold weather.

Flooding

Create a flood plan so that you and your family know what to do if there’s a flood. Make sure it includes details about which belongings, electrical items and/or furniture you would want to move to safety as well as what to take with you should you need to evacuate your home. Have a look at the Environment Agency website for more advice on making a flood plan.

Flooding presents a number of risks to health, drowning being the most obvious. Serious injury can be caused by falling into fast flowing water or from hidden dangers under the water, such as missing manhole covers. The stress and strain of being flooded and cleaning up can have a notable impact on mental health and well-being. See the attached leaflet for guidance on coping with traumatic situations.

There is also a serious danger posed by carbon monoxide fumes from the indoor use of generators to dry out buildings. Infections arising as a result of floodwaters in this country are rare as harmful microbes in floodwater usually become very diluted. There are, however, a number of precautions you can take. See the Flooding Advice for the Public leaflet and Frequently asked health questions.

Food safety advice in a power cut

Poor food safety can cause serious illness from food borne bacteria and viruses. The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. Older adults, pregnant women and children are most at risk.

If you experience a power cut follow some simple tips from The Food Standards Agency to help keep your food safe:

  • If your power has been cut off and your fridge has not been working for a few hours, throw away the food inside. If your freezer has not been working, throw away any meat, fish or dairy products, or foods containing these, if they have started to get soft. Throw away any food that you would eat frozen, for example ice cream.
  • Check with your insurance company whether they need to see the defrosted food as part of your claim.
  • Store opened food in a container with a lid. While the power remains off keep your fridge and freezer doors closed. If you are at risk from or are expecting planned power cuts; ensure you have a supply of food that does not need to be refrigerated or frozen e.g. long life milk, canned or dried goods and ready prepared baby formula.

Find more helpful advice during a power cut here.

Food safety advice if you have been affected by flooding

Many residents in Surrey are experiencing the effects of flooding, which can present a number of risks to health, the most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. You can help yourself and your family to stay healthy, by following food safety guidance compiled by The Food Standards Agency, Public Health England and the Environmental Agency which includes cleaning your home and dealing with food.