Keeping well this winter

Published: Thursday, 1 December 2022

As we are set to face the challenges that winter brings, Havering Council has put together some tips for keeping well this winter. 

Our top tips tell you how you cannot only keep well and warm, but where you can also get support and more information if you need it.

Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said:

“We’ve had a long warm spell, but with winter creeping in, it also presents the borough and our residents with many challenges – keeping warm when the cost of living is high, keeping well with bugs and flu around and keeping connected at a time we traditionally spend more time indoors.

“No one needs to be lonely or feeling disconnected because of a lack of community or illness. There is plenty of support in our community and I want everyone who needs it to access it as easily and as quickly as possible.

“We all have a part to play and I’m hoping that particularly during this season everyone will keep an eye on their family and neighbours, give a helping hand and sign posting them to help and support.” 

Covid 19

Although we are no longer seeing the number of serious cases that we were a year ago, Covid 19 hasn’t gone away. 

A number of Covid 19 pop-up vaccination clinics are being run in the borough.

You can book yourself in, and sometimes walk-in to a number of centres in Havering for your first, second or booster Covid 19 vaccination.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV is a common winter virus which affects children under the age of two.

It causes mild coughs and colds. RSV can also cause bronchiolitis which makes it harder for infants to breathe and feed.

Breathing in cigarette smoke also increases the risk of a child getting bronchiolitis, so it is important not to smoke around your child.

Norovirus

Norovirus, also called the "winter vomiting bug", is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be very unpleasant, but usually goes away in about two days.

Washing hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop norovirus from spreading. Remember – hand gels do not kill norovirus. 

Get advice from 111 if you’re worried about a baby under 12 months, if your child stops feeding, or if you or your child have diarrhoea for more than seven days or vomiting for more than two days. 

Remember to stay off school or work until you have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least two days.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious. Look out for symptoms in your child which include a sore throat, a headache, and fever, along with a characteristic pinkish or red body rash.

Contact your GP or NHS 111 if you suspect your child has scarlet fever because early treatment can reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia.

Get your flu vaccination

Getting fully vaccinated is the best way of protecting you and others against flu.

If you get flu and Covid 19 at the same time, research shows that you’re more likely to be seriously ill. Getting vaccinated against flu and Covid 19 will provide protection for you and those around you.

If you’re offered both vaccines, it is safe to have them at the same time. If you’re unable to have both at the same time, you can have one and catch up with the other vaccine later.

Find out more and book your vaccine

For children, a number of clinics are offering the free nasal spray. All primary school children and some secondary school aged children will be offered the nasal spray in school.

Book your child an appointment

Be safe, healthy and happy

Our winter webpage has plenty of advice to help you and your family stay well this winter.

Here are some highlights.

  • Staying well this winter - if you feel unwell, visit 111 online or dial 111 for help 
  • You can enter your postcode into the NHS website to find a GP. Make sure you get your prescription medicines before Christmas 
  • Flu is very infectious and spread by germs. Using a tissue will trap the germs when you cough or sneeze; wash your hands with warm water and soap and bin the used tissue quickly. Teaching your child how to wash their hands will reduce the risk of picking up, or spreading infections. The NHS has more information. If you would like the flu vaccination or to find out more about it
  • For information on loneliness, visit Campaign to End Loneliness or Age UK 
  • Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it’s more common and can be more serious, in groups such as the very young or older people.  Check out the NHS website for more information on what to look out for.  
  • Antibiotics do not work on viral infections like coughs, colds and flu. Don’t ask for antibiotics if you don’t need them, to ensure they work more effectively when you do need them. 
  • We have local mental health support in the borough 
  • In the first instance, pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with a range of minor health concerns such as coughs, colds and tummy troubles. They will also tell you if you need to see a GP or other healthcare professional. 

If you need to contact the NHS dial 111. In the case of an emergency dial 999 and if you have children under five you can keep them well by: 

  • ensuring their vaccinations are up to date 
  • taking up the offer of additional vaccinations 
  • teaching them how to wash their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes 
  • finding out more about the common infections children can get 
  • support your child’s school or nursery by keeping them off when infectious

Planning for and responding to cold weather 

Every year as temperatures drop over the winter period, cold weather affects health and wellbeing. Cold weather and hazards such as snow and ice increase the likelihood of falls and injuries. Cold temperatures also suppress the immune system and make fighting infection more difficult.

The Cold Weather Plan for England includes advice and guidance on keeping well and staying warm during cold and harsh weather.

Stay warm

It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. 

Cold weather can cause your heart to work harder than usual and increases blood pressure. The chance of catching flu also increases during winter months and can be very serious for older people and people who have certain health conditions. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent more serious problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. 

Heat your home to at least 18C (65F). Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights but open your window for short periods during the day to allow ventilation and to prevent mould. Do not cover the vents and do not cook with windows closed.

You may be eligible to get help with heating your home through the Winter Fuel Payment and can find information on making your home warmer on the GOV.UK website

Wear several layers of light clothes as they trap warm air better than one bulky layer. 

Keep active when you're indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

Warm Spaces

The Council is working alongside voluntary, community and local organisations and businesses to set up a network of Warm Spaces across the borough this winter.  

These include libraries, leisure centres, community centres, community hubs and other places. They will offer residents a warm welcome and a comfortable space to share with others. 

Some venues will also offer hot drinks, activities, and other services such as free Wi-Fi. Warm Spaces will be heated, safe and friendly places, where residents can comfortably spend time reading, studying or chatting with others. 

Go to our Warm Spaces page

Cost of living

As the cost of living continues to rise across the country, Havering Council recognises that our residents are going to be feeling the pinch this winter.

We have created a webpage for all of the support that may be out there for you this winter and beyond, all in one handy place.

There you can find links to the Havering Helps assistance scheme, council tax support, debt management services, energy grants, food banks and community hubs, as well as online benefits calculators so you can be sure you’re receiving all the support you are entitled to.   

Go to our cost of living page

Community support

The Havering Community Hub site offers lots of interactive features where communities can connect in a number of different ways.

It contains information on how to access financial help, local charities, food banks and events to keep active.

Look out for neighbours, particularly those who could become isolated over Christmas.

Information is available if you are worried about someone who is - or could become homeless.

Gritting

The Council’s winter roads maintenance service have vehicles ready for snow or ice should it arrive and a snow plough ready to clear roads.

Residents are advised to take extra care, and in heavy snow only travel if you have to.  

We’ve got: 

  • five gritting lorries on stand-by 
  • 2,000 tonnes of salt in our depot – enough to grit up to over 380 miles of roads and sufficient for almost three weeks of continuous snowfall 
  • teams on-call 24/7 including weekends 

When Havering is hit with severe cold weather, as many primary roads as possible will be gritted, with priority given to bus routes and roads linking motorways and hospitals.

Once priority roads are clear, the team will look at side roads (secondary routes) to help support the scheduled rubbish collections can still take place and enable emergency services  to get about. 

Go to our gritting page

Waste and recycling collections

Christmas and New Year waste and recycling collections

Waste and recycling collections will run as usual up to and including Friday 23 December 2022.

They will then change for the Christmas and New Year weeks.

Check out your revised dates

Normal collections schedule returns from Monday 16 January 2023.
  
Please leave your waste and recycling bags out for collection for 7am on the revised dates (including clinical waste).

There are no bulky waste collections from Monday 26 December 2022. This will resume from Monday 9 January 2023.

Garden waste bin collections will be suspended from  Monday 26 December and will start again from Monday 9 January 2023.

In the event of heavy snow, rubbish and recycling collections may be affected. Any impact on services will be publicised on the Council's website and social media platforms.

A list of individual roads affected will also be available on the Council website.

Gerpins Lane reuse and recycling centre will be closed on Christmas Day and will have revised hours on other days over Christmas and New Year.

Please check the Gerpins Lane website before visiting.

School closures

In severe weather local schools may be affected.

Parents are advised to check individual schools' websites, social media and Time FM for the latest updates.