The Cold Snap

Freezing temperatures, ice and snow are here..
Top tips just in case you aren’t completely ready for this cold snap:

If you cannot afford to heat all the rooms in your house to 18 degrees Celsius, heat your living room during the day and your bedroom from one hour before bedtime.

Stay indoors as much as you can but keep active even with chair based exercises.

Eat hot food/have hot drinks.

Keep all windows closed.

Draw your curtains when it is getting dark.

Wears lots of thinner layers of clothing, a hat, gloves and socks, pyjamas at night.

Only go out if you really need to. Wrap up 10 minutes before you go out so that you have trapped heat around your body. Wear boots or shoes which have grips on the soles so you are less likely to fall.

Check on older relatives/neighbours or anyone that has a long term illness especially if they live alone to make sure they are warm and if they are prescribed medicines/inhalers, to make sure they are using them. Check that they have enough of them and enough food.

Make sure you have contact numbers for people who can help you during this cold snap and for people who you may need to help. Keep your mobile charged and ensure your landline is working.

Additional top tips for the cold snap if you have COPD, asthma, heart conditions or diabetes…

COPD
If you are going out, try using your reliever inhaler 20-30 minutes before you go out and keep your reliever with you.

Wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth and breathe through your nose instead of your mouth as this will help warm the air you breathe in.

Contact your GP or pharmacist asap to get more inhalers if you are running out (or nebulisers if you use these) and to get a ‘rescue pack of steroids and antibiotics’ if you have used a rescue pack before but do not have one at home now. Your doctor or COPD nurse will have explained to you when to start the steroids or the antibiotics (as you may or may not need to start both) so that you do not need to see a dr straight away if it the evening or a weekend, though you should still see a dr within 2-3days of starting the rescue pack. If you are not sure whether to start your rescue pack or you don’t have one but know you need one, contact your dr or 111. The sooner you start your rescue pack, the less ill you will get and the quicker you will get better. If you don’t have a self-management plan to follow, make an appointment to see your COPD nurse to get one.

Asthma
Same tips as for COPD except do not need the ‘rescue pack’.

Diabetes
Sugar levels creep up when it is very cold or if you become ill, so test your blood sugar (after warming your hands up) as often as you did before and if you feel unwell. Increased activity to keep warm can reduce how much insulin you need. Try not to ‘comfort eat’.

Heart conditions
Do not do too much physical work outside or forget to take any medications you are on because cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The cold also affects your blood which increase the risk of developing blood clots which could also cause a heart attack or a stroke.