What the public can do in preparation for and during cold weather

Individual/household measures to reduce health risks from cold weather

General measures to prepare for winter include:

  1. ensuring that homes are well insulated and that windows and curtains are closed properly, and checking on water pipes to prevent water freezing in them;
  2. making sure heaters are safe and appropriate for the space in which they are used;
  3. considering vaccination for influenza (checking with the general practitioner – GP);
  4. for homes that are in areas prone to cold spells or isolated, stocking additional food, water and medicine;
  5. being prepared to manage interruptions in heating, electricity and/or other services.

During cold weather, people should:

  1. pay attention to public health advice, weather forecasts and warnings, and travel updates;
  2. seek advice from their GPs, and for those with chronic diseases, ask about specific risks and appropriate medication doses;
  3. wear appropriate layers of warm clothing, and remember to cover the hands, feet and head;
  4. consume warm meals regularly;
  5. drink enough fluids, but avoid very cold drinks;
  6. avoid alcohol and tobacco, which increase the likelihood of adverse effects from cold;
  7. take regular physical exercise, but take additional care when exercising or being physically active outside;
  8. avoid standing or sitting still for long periods in the cold;
  9. make sure the indoor air is sufficiently warm, with at least one room heated to 18–21 °C (ideally living areas and bathrooms should be 20–22°C, and other occupied rooms 18 °C);
  10. if using solid fuels (such as charcoal, wood, or coal) for cooking and heating, ensure rooms are ventilated regularly;
  11. be cautious when using heaters and electric blankets;
  12. look out for warning signs on the skin from cold exposure (numbness in fingers and toes means the risk of cold injuries has increased and a pale spot on the face or other skin areas is a sign of a cold injury, so warm the area immediately, and protect the skin from further cooling).