Safer Seasons: Winter

Here's some useful information on keeping yourself and others safe through the cold winter months.


Cold weather alert

The Met Office has extended the current Level 2 Cold Weather Alert that is currently in place across England and includes West Sussex, until Wednesday 8 February at mid-day.

View the full warning at the Met Office Cold Weather Alert site.

Cold weather can affect your health. The people most likely to be affected are the elderly, the very young, and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

There are lots of ways you can help yourself and your family in the cold weather:

  • Heat your home to at least 18⁰C
  • Keep moving – regular activity keeps you feeling warmer
  • Wear multiple layers of clothes inside and outside

Find out more about how to keep yourself well and your home warm during winter by visiting the NHS Keep Warm Keep Well website. 

For more information go to:


School closures

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. Parents and carers should expect to be told directly from their school about a sudden closure through the usual communications.

West Sussex County Council ask that schools let us know when they have had to close so that we can update our school information pages. These pages should not, however be used as a comprehensive list of schools which are open or closed.


Stay safe

Keep up to date: Follow us on @WSHighways to know 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.

Plan your route: Use our map to view gritting routes by toggling ‘winter gritting routes’ within the ‘driver information’ menu section.

Be prepared: Find more information on driving in icy conditions and what to do if you get trapped or stranded in your car during a cold snap.

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.


Stay well

There are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

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 this winter. 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.

If you’re over 50, pregnant, in a clinically vulnerable group or you’re a health and social care worker, you are eligible for a FREE flu and Covid-19 booster vaccine this winter. 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.

Eat well: We also provide a Meals on Wheels service which offers hot, tasty meals delivered to your door, available 365 days a year.

If you feel unwell: act quickly and don’t wait for it to get worse. Winter can make existing health problems worse.

For more information go to:

West Sussex Wellbeing Boost your immunity this winter.

 

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 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do.

More information on staying well this winter is available on the NHS Stay Well website.


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.

 

Sign up to the free Met Office Cold Weather alerts service

Sign up for all weather warnings on the Met Office website or phone 01392 885680 or 0370 900 0100


Stay thrifty

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 the Warm House Discount Scheme (Gov.uk) or call 0800 731 0214.

Winter Fuel Payment: If you were born before 26 September 1956 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 2022 to 2023. 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, but you can call the helpline to confirm on 0800 731 0160.

Cold weather payment: When the temperature is an average of 0°C or below over seven consecutive days an automatic payment of £25 extra per week may be made based on the benefits you receive. For more information visit Gov.uk - Cold weather payments.

Don’t let the heat escape: there are grants available, for eligible households, to help 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 01243 974063.

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.


Look after others

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 in touch

Keep an eye on your neighbours or relatives: make sure they are safe, warm and well. 

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 those 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.

 

Keep a list of useful numbers and emergency contacts: here are a few useful ones... 

West Sussex Wellbeing Hubs can offer further support to keep you and your family healthy. Visit West Sussex Wellbeing or call:

  • 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 can provide 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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