Thursday 5 January 2017

Cold weather advice from Barnet Council

Barnet Council has issued advice on its website as to what we should do in cold weather. It says

Barnet Council and its Public Health partners are calling on residents to help make sure elderly and vulnerable Barnet neighbours stay safe, warm and well this winter.
Residents can play their part by making sure older neighbours are warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. Keeping warm over winter helps prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems like pneumonia.
Barnet’s public health team has issued some top tips for keeping warm this winter:
  •  Keep your house at a healthy temperature. For a healthy adult the main living room should be between 18-21°C (64-70F), this recommendation is slightly warmer for elderly people at temperatures around 21°C (70F). Other areas of the house should be kept at a minimum of 16°C (61F)
  • Use a hot-water bottle or layers of blankets to keep warm while you're in bed. When room temperatures fall below 16°C there is an increased risk of chest infections. Below 12°C and a person’s arteries will narrow, raising blood pressure and dramatically increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Keep all doors shut to prevent draughts and pull your curtains at dusk to keep the heat inside. If your radiator is in front of the window, tuck curtains behind it
  • Have regular hot drinks and soups. Alternatively head to one of Age UK Barnet's coffee mornings, or use their befriending service to have someone over for a hot drink and a chat. Find out what is on by calling 020 8203 5040
  • Wear several layers of clothes, as doing so means warmth from your body is trapped between layers. In addition, always wear hats, gloves and scarves
  • Stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or breathing problems
  • Keep active by moving around at least once every hour and avoiding sitting down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm
Cold weather can stiffen joints and worsen arthritis, increasing the risk of falls. Residents are also asked to consider whether they have any family or neighbours who may benefit from the Barnet Falls Prevention Service. The free 12 week programme offers support to those who may be at risk of falling.
Barnet Council’s Social Care Direct is able to offer assistance to vulnerable Barnet Residents in an emergency situation. Where there is someone vulnerable in a household and emergency heating measures are required, Barnet residents should call social care direct on 020 8359 5000 or 020 8359 2000 in an out of hours situation.
Councillor Helena Hart, Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Even though the weather is unlikely to be as severe as it has been in previous years, we’re still asking residents to look out for their elderly neighbours. Simple checks such as making sure they have enough to eat can make the world of difference.
“The council will still have staff working over the Christmas period to ensure that where assistance is required, we’re able to provide it. Where residents are concerned about elderly neighbours or neighbours with long term health conditions, we’d encourage them to get in touch.”
As well as staying warm, residents are encouraged to take simple steps to stay safe too.  Most burglaries in Barnet take place during the working day, between 8am-7pm. The majority of burgled homes in Barnet have been entered through the front door, but simple steps can make homes less attractive to a burglar:
  • Close and lock all your doors and windows – police know that as many burglars enter through a window as through a door
  • Double-lock all doors – shutting isn’t the same as locking and won’t keep burglars out
  • As the nights are getting longer, leave a light on when the streetlights come on to keep burglars in the dark
  • Always keep valuables, like laptops and tablets, out of sight and never leave them near a door, letterbox or window
  • Avoid leaving empty boxes outside your home until your waste collection day as this advertises you have new equipment inside
Inspector Adrian Needley of Barnet Police added: “We’re working hard to stop criminals and help Londoners keep themselves and their property safe. You can be a hero and help to stop crime before it happens by following our simple crime prevention steps.
“Should resident require any further information or advice, please contact your local neighbourhood police officers.”
For more information about keeping warm over winter, or to refer someone you’re concerned about, visit:

 Frozen Barnet Pavements
As this blog previously reported, the resurfacing of pavements in Barnet has meant that days like today, when there are heavy frosts result in pavements becoming extremely dangerous and slippery. It is all very well Barnet Council saying "Have regular hot drinks and soups. Alternatively head to one of Age UK Barnet's coffee mornings, or use their befriending service to have someone over for a hot drink and a chat" but if pavements are not gritted and are totally unsafe, is it really sensible to be advising elderly people to go out? I also find it to be the height of hypocricy for the council to be advising this when they abolished the meals on wheels service, which ensured that elderly and vulnerable people were visited on a daily basis with hot food.

I know from my own experiences with my elderly mother that putting this sort of advice on websites is completely pointless. Firstly many elderly people do not use the internet. Many like my mother suffer from macular degeneration, therefore are unable to see a screen. Many have issues with moving so advising them "Keep active by moving around at least once every hour and avoiding sitting down for long periods of time. Even light exercise will help keep you warm" is not practical. My mother was lucky that she was reasonably well off, therefore could afford to keep her house warm. For many elderly people, this is not the case. In a modern, civilised country, it is not acceptable that elderly people are forced to live in cold and dangerous accomodation due to financial circumstances. The council has clealry identified a problem, hence the website information. What is need is proper action and a task force set up to give proper help to people.

A few practical steps that could be taken are as follows:-

* Grants to assist with energy efficiency such as insulation and double glazing.
* Gritting of pavements in icy conditions
* A register of vulnerable people and checks in cold weather
* Reinstatement of the meals on wheels services

I must also say a couple of words about the advice regarding burglars. It would be good if the police could get out on the streets and be seen. I haven't seen a bobby on the beat in Mill Hill for so long that I can't remember. It would also be good for these beat officers to dispense this advice face to face, if they see any of the issues listed above.

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