Keeping safe this winter

Advice and information on staying safe and well during the colder winter months.

Stay safe

Plan your travel: Follow advice on whether or not it is safe to drive. When driving in icy conditions, give yourself plenty of time to de-ice your vehicle if needed, and to get to your destination. Find more advice and what to do if you get trapped or stranded in your car during a cold snap.

Keep up to date: Use our map to view gritting routes by toggling ‘winter gritting routes’ within the ‘driver information’ menu section. Follow us on @WSHighways to find out when our fleet of gritters are out and about this winter and if any parts of our road network have been affected by severe weather.

Prevent fires: Keep your home safe from fire if using traditional methods of heating your home this winter. These include chimneys and log burners, candles, electric blankets, portable heaters, and wheat bags.

Be prepared: See the Met Office advice on 10 things your should do now to prepare for winter.

Stay well

Boost your immunity: Covid-19 and flu spread more easily in winter and can both cause serious illness. Vaccines are our best protection against both viruses and will help keep you and others safe. Getting both the Covid-19 and flu vaccines is important. Even if you’ve had all your Covid-19 vaccinations or had the virus itself, your immunity decreases over time and the latest booster offers protection against newer Covid-19 variants. Similarly, flu viruses change each year so it’s important to be up to date with the latest flu vaccination.

The NHS will offer flu and Covid-19 vaccines to those at greater risk of serious illness this winter. Those who can get both vaccines through the NHS will include:

  • everyone aged 65 and over,
  • pregnant women
  • care home residents
  • people with certain health conditions
  • frontline health and care staff
  • unpaid carers
  • household contacts of those at higher risk.

The flu vaccine is also offered to most children including all aged 2 and 3 years old, school aged children from reception to year 11 and those aged 6 months to 17 years old with certain health conditions. The vaccine is usually given as a quick and painless spray up the nose.

Find out more on the Sussex Health & Care website.

If you are 65 and over or have certain pre-existing health risks you are entitled to a free Pneumococcal vaccination against pneumonia, speak to your GP Surgery.

Reduce the risk: Help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and flu by:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meeting outside
  • Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces
  • Trying to stay at home if you are unwell
  • Taking a test if you have Covid-19 symptoms, and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive
  • Washing your hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.

Protect against Norovirus: Norovirus, sometimes called the winter vomiting bug, is easily passed on through close contact and poor hand hygiene and through touching surfaces and items that an infected person has handled or through food and water. Symptoms include:

  • a sudden onset of nausea, followed by vomiting and diarrhoea
  • fever
  • headache
  • aching limbs
  • lasting 1-2 days.

Help stop the spread by:

  • Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food (do not rely on hand sanitisers as these are ineffective for Norovirus)
  • Using bleach-based cleaners to disinfect surfaces
  • Washing contaminated clothing and bed linen/towels at 600C
  • Staying off school or work or mixing with others for 48 hours after symptoms stop

Get advice if you feel unwell: Act quickly and don’t wait for it to get worse. Winter can make existing health problems worse. You can get help and advice from:

  • Pharmacy: pharmacists can give treatment advice for a range of minor illnesses & can tell you if you need to see a doctor.
  • GP: you may be able to speak to a GP online, over the phone, or go in for an appointment if they think you need to.
  • NHS 111: go to or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do.

Look after your mental health: Your mental health and emotional wellbeing are just as important as your physical health, especially during the colder winter months and darker evenings. Take a look at our advice and information page for tips and help and support.

Eat well: Regular hot meals and drinks will keep you warm. Stock up on tinned or frozen foods. Get it delivered if you can, so you don’t have to go out when it’s cold or icy. We provide a Meals on Wheels service which offers hot, tasty meals delivered to your door, available 365 days a year.
Further advice: NHS Stay Well in Winter.

Stay warm

Get your heating system checked: make sure it is working safely and efficiently. Ensure you have working smoke alarms and BS EN 50291 standard carbon monoxide alarms in your home.

Keep your home warm: heat your home to at least 18⁰C (65⁰F). Keeping warm can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. Keep your bedroom windows closed on a winter’s night; breathing cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.

Keep moving and wrap up: any activity, even cleaning, gets the circulation going and makes you feel warmer. Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer; this will trap the heat better to keep you warm. Thin layers of clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good for maintaining body heat.

Be prepared: If you are not on mains gas or electricity, make sure you have a good supply of heating oil, LPG, or solid fuel so you do not run out in winter. Stock up on tinned and frozen foods, warm clothes, and any medication so you don’t have to go out too much when it’s cold or icy.

Be safe: If you have an electric blanket, use it as instructed and get it tested every three years. Never use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket. Do not use a gas cooker or oven to heat your home; it is inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which can kill.

Visit your local library: All libraries in West Sussex are open six days per week (Monday to Saturday) and offer a warm welcome to all visitors. Our libraries have a wide range of information and friendly staff are on hand to help people find what they are looking for, with topics ranging from managing your money, to ideas for saving energy, finding a job, and guidance on benefits. Partners working from our libraries also offer a wide range of face-to-face support, especially for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Sign up to the free Met Office Cold Weather alerts service on the Met Office website or phone 01392 885680 or 0370 900 0100.

Stay thrifty

Cost of living: West Sussex County Council is here to help with advice and support to help you manage cost-of-living pressure. Take a look at our advice and information pages.

Warm Home Discount: If your household is on a low income, you could receive £150 off your energy bill. Contact your electricity supplier today to find out if you are eligible. To find out more visit Warm House Discount Scheme or call 0800 030 9322.

Winter Fuel Payment: If you were born before 25 September 1957 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. The amount you’ll get includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You’ll only get this extra amount in winter 2023 to 2024. This is in addition to any other Cost of Living Payments you get with your benefit or tax credits. You should receive this automatically from the government, if you’re eligible, but you can call the helpline for free to check on 0800 731 0160.

Cold weather payment: If you are eligible, you’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March 2024. For more information visit Cold weather payments.

Don’t let the heat escape: There are grants available to help eligible households on a low income with the costs of insulating lofts and cavity walls. You may also get help with replacing a broken or inefficient oil, LPG or gas boiler. Find out more about the Warmer Homes programme, visit the Warmer Homes website or call 0800 038 5737.

Trouble paying your energy bills: Talk to your supplier first to discuss how to pay what you can afford.

Energy and debt advice: Energy advisers at Citizens Advice can help if you are struggling to meet your energy payments. The service, which is run by Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice, is available to all West Sussex residents and can be contacted on 0800 145 6879.

Other support in your area: Your district or borough council may offer additional funding and support to help you save money and make your home more energy efficient. The West Sussex Affordable Energy website tells you what is available in each council area.

Top tips for being more energy efficient: Visit our web pages for energy efficiency advice in the home.

#EnergyAware: Ofgem is bringing together all the information available to those who find themselves in debt to make them aware of what options they have, what financial and non-financial support is available to them, and how to cut energy costs in both the short and long term. Visit the #EnergyAware hub page.

Stay in touch

Check on others: Check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses to make sure they are safe, warm, and well. Ask about living in a cold home and support vulnerable individuals to access existing resources to keep warm.

Stay social: continue your social activities with friends, let them know if you can’t get out for any reason.

Safe and Well Visits are a free service offered by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to people aged over 65 or those living with disabilities. It involves a prearranged visit to your home on how to make it safer. The service also offers a free online home fire safety check. The check offers tips and advice on the steps you can take to reduce those risks and provides a personalised fire safety action plan to help keep you and your household safe from fire. If you would like to request a visit, please call 0345 8729 719 or visit the Safe and Well Visits website.

Schools: There are times when schools will have to close unexpectedly, and these might include emergencies such as extreme weather conditions, flooding, a buildings issue, or in unusual cases due to a lack of staff because of illness. Headteachers and governors are responsible for making a decision to close an individual school. Your child’s school should let you know if they are affected. West Sussex County Council asks schools to us know when they have to close so that we can update our school information pages.

Keep a list of useful numbers and emergency contacts:

West Sussex Wellbeing hubs:

  • Adur and Worthing 01903 221450
  • Arun 01903 737862
  • Chichester 01243 521041
  • Crawley 01293 585317
  • Horsham 01403 215111
  • Mid Sussex 01444 477191

For social care support enquiries or for information on telecare services call Adults' CarePoint on 01243 642121 or visit West Sussex Connect To Support.

To report or get more info about power cuts, call 105 or from a mobile 0800 316 3105.

If you need extra help during power cuts, contact the electricity power provider for your area:

  • UK Power Networks 0800 169 9970
  • Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 294 3259

Citizens Advice provides a wide range of support including advice on energy bills and changing energy tariffs. Call 0344 477 1171.

Families can visit their local Children and Family Centre for further advice and support. Find your nearest centre or call 01243 777807.

Utility Services Vulnerable People Risk Register is a service that in the event of power cuts or loss of water prioritises those most in need. You might be eligible for additional support during power cuts. For further information and to pre-register for Priority Services contact your energy supplier:

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