10 things you should do now to prepare for winter

Is there anyone else you can help prepare for winter? Perhaps a neighbour, friend, elderly relative?

Winter weather consides with the flu season and flu can affect people in different ways. If you are healthy you will usually shake it off within a week, but for young children, older people, or those with chronic health conditions, it can be very serious. The annual flu vaccination is offered free to people who are most at risk from the effects of flu. Find out more about flu vaccinations. 

Checking your car is ready for winter is really important. Take a quick check of your tyres. It's dangerous and illegal to drive in winter conditions with low levels of tread on your vehicle’s tyres. Use a screen wash additive to keep your windscreen free of winter road grime caused by road salting and gritting. Getting stuck in your car in winter could be dangerous, so get a winter car kit ready. You never know when you might need it.

Cold weather can be a risk to your health, particularly if you are over 65 or have health conditions. Your home (and those of elderly relatives and neighbours) should ideally be at least 18 °C. During cold spells, keep your windows closed at night as this can cause a real drop in the temperature indoors. If you have a heating boiler consider getting it serviced before the cold weather arrives. Find out more about heating your home 

Insulating pipes has two benefits – you’ll keep the heat in, saving you money, but it also means reduced risk of frozen pipes which can burst, causing flooding, damage and leaving your home without water. It's also important to know where your stoptap (also called stopcock or stop valve) is and to check it regularly to make sure it is working. This will enable you to turn off the water to your home quickly should there be a problem. 

Think about what may be impacted by strong winds or flooding. In windy weather surprising things can become dangerous. Trees or branches can come down, cast iron guttering could be lethal and so can roof slates. Garden furniture and even children’s toys and trampolines can fly around causing damage and potential harm and fences can become problems too. Read more about preparing your property for winter weather and storms.

Make sure you have basic supplies in case you have to leave home quickly or your power and water are disrupted. It's worth putting together a 'grab bag', with bottled water, medicines, a torch, radio and batteries, copies of important documents and a change of clothes. 

It’s worth thinking about how you might get to work in the event of severe weather. Sometimes roads may be more affected than the rail network, but on other occasions the opposite may be true. You may also be able to use a bus if the more main roads are clear. Think about whether there's an option for you to work from home if travel is not advised? You should also think about alternative childcare options if school or nursery are closed.

Not everyone is able to access the help or information they may require to keep them safe and well in winter. It's nice to be neighbourly and the human contact with others can have really positive effects for everyone. You may be able to help your neighbour with an important job to prepare for winter, or your neighbour may be able to help you. Just taking time to make contact will be appreciated. 

We are so reliant on the internet, but if a storm meant power and mobile phone networks were affected, what would you do?  Consider a separate battery charger, and you could store key information such as the power cut helpline number (105) on your phone. Find out more about dealing with a power cut.
There are lots of things you could do to help your community, particularly if severe weather hits. Find out about getting involved in community emergency preparedness groups.