‘Check on neighbours during cold snap’

With further wintry weather forecasts the Public Health Agency (PHA) is advising people in Derry and the North West to look after themselves and their neighbours during the cold snap.

A spokesperson said: “Vulnerable and elderly people can find it difficult to get out to the shops or to keep their house adequately heated during the cold weather. The PHA is encouraging everyone to look out for those who may be more vulnerable during severe weather and check that they are ok.

“The best way to keep warm is by wearing multi-layers of clothing and to wear a hat and gloves, even indoors; heat your main living room to around 18-21ºC (64-70ºF) and the rest of the house to at least 16ºC (61ºF); heat all the rooms you use in the day; If you can’t heat all your rooms, make sure that you keep your living room warm throughout the day;it is important to make sure your heating is safe and that your house is properly ventilated, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Advice was also given for those with electric heating systems.

People with these systems are encouraged to set the timer on the heating to come on before they get up and to and switch it off when going to bed. In very cold weather local people are being advised to set their heating to come on earlier, rather than turning the thermostat up, so that they won’t be cold while you wait for your home to heat up. Warnings were given to to never use an electric blanket and hot water bottle together and people who have an electric blanket are being told to check what type it is – some are designed only to warm the bed before you get in and should not be used throughout the night.

The Public Health Agency spokesperson added: “If you are worried about a relative or an elderly neighbour, contact your local council. There is also help and support from the charity age NI. Its website has information on how to stay warm in winter which contains useful contact numbers and advice. As in previous years, the PHA has been working with partners in local councils and the community and voluntary sector to provide access to Keep Warm packs for those who are most vulnerable. This year an additional 3,000 such packs have been made available which aim to provide particular support to older people, young families and homeless people.