Mouton Medial Centre has produced two documents giving advice on how to stay well in winter. If you would like to print these, then please click the buttons to download a printable version.

Tips to help you stay well this winter and get the care you need.

Winter comes with a higher risk of health issues, particularly for older people or those with long-term conditions and compromised immune systems. 

Being cold can raise the risk of higher blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The cold, damp weather can aggravate existing health problems, making you more vulnerable to respiratory winter illnesses. But there are things you can do to stay well. 

Top tips to stay well from the NHS

Get your vaccines and boosters. Protect yourself and others by getting your COVID-19 booster and flu vaccination.

  • Keep warm during the day. Wrap up in lots of layers of thin clothes, even when you go to bed. Keep doors closed to block draughts. Try to heat rooms you regularly use to at least 18°C.  (Speak to Citizens Advice for info about getting help you’re entitled to with your heating costs).
  • Keep moving. Move around indoors and try to get outside for a walk. Avoid sitting for more than one hour at a time.
  • Wrap up at night. Wear layers to bed, including socks. Use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket. (Don't use a hot water bottle and electric blanket together.) Keep your windows closed at night. 
  • Eat well. Make sure you eat a balanced diet with lots of seasonal fruit and vegetables. And try to eat at least one hot meal a day.  
  • Stay hydrated. Regular meals and hot drinks can help you keep warm.
  • Have your medication on hand. Make sure you have the right medicines at home in case you get poorly. Ask your GP/pharmacist if you're not sure what medications you should have. 
  • Stop the spread of germs. Protect yourself and others by washing your hands with warm, soapy water, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wearing a mask in public spaces.
  • Look after your mental health. The winter months can take a toll on our mental wellbeing, so make sure you're looking after your mental health, just as you do your physical health. If you are feeling down, speak to someone – a friend, family member, or a healthcare professional like your doctor.  Exercise helps to release mental pressure too.

If you get ill

Colds, coughs and sore throats are really common during the winter months and most of us will get one or the other of these.  Unless these become severe and go on for some time, there is no need to contact the GP.  Over the counter (OTC) medications are readily available to help relieve our symptoms.

Antibiotics will not help these conditions as these are known as viral infections.  Antibiotics are used to treat some types of bacterial infection by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading.  But they don’t work for everything and many mild bacterial infections get better on their own without using antibiotics.

Antibiotics are no longer routinely used to treat chest infections, sore throats or ear infections.  Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem Worldwide today, taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future.

Guidance about when to call the GP:

Sore throat – speak to your GP if:

  • Your sore throat does not improve after a week
  • You often get sore throats
  • You’re worried about your sore throat
  • You have a sore throat and a very high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
  • You have a weakened immune system e.g. because of diabetes or chemotherapy

Cough – speak to your GP if:

  • You’ve had a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks
  • Your cough is very bad or quickly gets worse e.g. you have a hacking cough or cannot stop coughing
  • You feel very unwell
  • You have chest pain
  • You’re losing weight for no reason
  • The side of your neck feels swollen and painful (swollen glands)
  • You find it hard to breathe
  • You have a weakened immune system e.g. because of chemotherapy or diabetes

Cold – speak to your GP if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
  • Your symptoms get suddenly worse
  • Your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • Your’re feeling short of breath or develop chest pain
  • You have a long-term medical condition e.g. diabetes, heart, lung or kidney condition
  • You have a weakened immune system e.g. because you are having chemotherapy


If you need medical help right now, call 111 or use NHS 111 online


If it is a real emergency and life-threatening, then you can call 999.

Keeping warm and well in winter

Keeping warm in winter is especially important as we get older as changes to our bodies often mean cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to. The good news is there are things you can do to stay warm and well.

Keep moving

A little bit of activity now and then is a great way to help you keep warm, as well as help you maintain strength and mobility. So try not to sit still for more than an hour at a time.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to keeping moving, so it's important you do something that feels right – and safe – for you.

Eat well

It can sometimes be difficult to keep up the motivation to prepare meals. But it's good to try and keep to a routine where you can. Hot food and drinks can help you to keep warm, so try to have one hot meal a day and as many hot drinks as you can.

Try to have a range of foods in your diet and try to eat fruit and vegetables each day – frozen and tinned vegetables can be just as good as fresh. It's also a good idea to keep your cupboards stocked with some basics just in case you can't get out to the shops – whether due to illness or bad weather.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has some tips for saving money on your shopping and reducing food waste, as well as some budget meal ideas. If you're worried about being able to afford food, the BDA also has some information on local food banks and useful helplines.

Get your winter vaccinations

Respiratory viruses are more widespread in winter, so it's especially important to get your vaccinations. Vaccinations are particularly important this winter as flu and coronavirus levels are expected to rise.

If you're aged 65 and over you might be eligible for a Covid booster jab. And it's not too late to have your first jab if you haven't yet.

You're entitled to a free flu jab from the doctor or pharmacist if you:

  • are aged 65 or over
  • care for someone, such as a friend or family member
  • are under 65 and have a serious long-term health condition
  • live in the same house as someone who is immune-compromised
  • are in long-stay residential care.

When you get your flu jab, check if you're also eligible for the pneumo vaccine, which helps protect you from pneumonia, and the Shingles vaccine.

Make sure your home is warm enough

Try to heat your home to a steady and comfortable temperature throughout the day in the rooms you use most, such as the living room and bedroom – usually around 18°C (64°F) is ideal. If there are rooms you don't use, like a spare bedroom, turn off the radiators in that room and close the doors. This will help you save on energy costs while keeping warm in winter.

At dusk, close all the curtains and keep the windows closed to help keep heat in when the weather's at its coldest.

If you have wood or laminate floors, you may want to consider putting rugs down to insulate your home.

If you're having trouble with the costs of heating your home, you might be entitled to government support. 

Speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help.


Stop the spread of germs

As well as getting vaccinated, there are some other simple measures we can take to reduce the spread of illness. Regularly washing your hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to stop germs from spreading.

You can also:

  • catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue
  • choose to wear a face covering in busy indoor spaces, like shops
  • leave windows ajar to let fresh air circulate when meeting people
  •     indoors
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

It's a good idea to keep some hand sanitiser with you when you're out and about in case you can't access a sink or bathroom to wash your hands.


Wrap up well

Wearing plenty of layers is the best way to keep warm in winter. If you're heading out, make sure you take some extra layers – even if you don’t need them immediately. It's a good idea to be prepared because the temperature can drop significantly when the sun goes in.

Wearing several thin layers will keep you warmer than wearing one thick layer, as layers trap warm air between them.

Our bodies react to the cold by redirecting our blood away from our hands and feet and towards our vital organs, so part of keeping our hands and feet warm is about keeping our whole body warm.

Keeping our hands warm

Wear gloves

Gloves made of wool, leather or synthetic material with insulating properties are best for keeping your hands warm. But it can get quite wet over winter and when your gloves get wet they transfer heat from your hands to the air, so it's very important to have a pair of waterproof gloves as well.

Pull your sleeves down

Minimise any gaps between your gloves and your clothing so that cold air can’t get in and you trap as much heat as possible.

Get the right fit

Warm air needs to be able to circulate round your fingers so it’s important to make sure your gloves aren’t too tight. You should be able to comfortably move your fingers around. Wiggling your fingers also stimulates blood flow to keep your hands warm. 


Keeping our feet warm

No one likes having cold feet, but it's not good for you either. We've outlined some top tips to help you keep your feet warm over winter.

Avoid having bare feet

Make sure to always wear socks, slippers or shoes around the house. If your feet get cold at night, then go to bed wearing socks.

Keep your socks and feet dry

If your socks or feet get wet, heat is transferred away from them, so make sure to wear dry waterproof shoes when you go out.

Put your feet up or keep moving

If you're sat down, keep your feet up on a stool – hot air rises, so floor level is likely to be the coldest part of a room. If you're at home, try and move your legs around to keep blood circulating to your feet.

Opt for woolly socks

Wear woolly socks or socks containing an insulating material in the winter to keep your feet warm.


Stay stocked up

It's a good idea to make sure you're prepared – winter weather can be unpredictable and can stop you from getting out and about.

Think about stocking up on cold and sore throat remedies as well as food, in case it's harder to leave the house. Your pharmacist can give you advice on what might help if you're feeling under the weather. You might also want to get a big bottle of water in case the water supply is interrupted.

It can also help to keep a list of important contacts, such as loved ones or
emergency numbers, by the phone in case you need them.

Simple steps to combat cold weather in the UK

Here are a few simple steps to help you make sure you’re prepared if we're told to expect severe weather, especially winter storms, ice or snow:

Keep an eye on the weather forecast. 

Visit the Met Office website for up-to-date weather forecasts or listen to the weather on the radio or TV.

If bad weather is forecast, make sure you have everything you need. 

Check you've got enough medication and food in case it's harder to leave the house. A bottle of water could be handy if the water supply is interrupted.

Have torches handy around the home in case of a power cut. 

It's a good idea to keep some spare batteries somewhere convenient, too.

Keep emergency numbers nearby. 

Call 105 in the event of a power cut – (from a landline or mobile) you can report a power cut and get information and advice if there's one in your area. You can also register with your supplier's Priority Services Register so they'll call you in the event of a power cut.

Take extra care if the ground is slippery. 

Wear shoes with good grip and consider keeping salt and sand mixture handy to grit paths. You could ask your neighbours for help to clear paths or driveways in bad weather.

Plan ahead when driving. 

Try to avoid going out in the car in bad weather if possible, and make sure you follow advice on driving conditions near you. If you do need to go out, pack up the following kit in case you get stuck: blankets, a bottle of water or flask of hot drink, some snacks, a shovel, a de-icer or scraper, a mobile phone and charger.


Be aware of your heart and circulation

The cold can increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack, as well as hypothermia. If you think you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

For a stroke, think FAST:

– Is the face drooping on one side?

A – Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?

S – Is speech slurred?

T – Time to call 999 if you spot any one of these signs.

Find out more about strokes on the NHS website

Many people experience severe chest pain during a heart attack – but the symptoms can be different for different people.

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature below 35°C and it's a medical emergency, just like a stroke or a heart attack.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Pale, cold and dry skin – skin and lips may turn blue or grey, (on black or brown skin this may be easier to see on the palms of hands or the soles of the feet)
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow breathing
  • Tiredness or confusion

Take extra care when out and about

It's important to be careful when out and about. In the autumn, fallen leaves and rain can make the ground very slippery. And in winter, ice and slow can seriously increase your risk of falls.

You might find that shoes with non-slip soles are helpful.