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Friday 10 December 2010

Be a good neighbour to the elderly and vulnerable


Cheshire East Council is urging people to be good neighbours during the bitterly-cold weather – and keep an eye out for the elderly and vulnerable.
Neighbours may be in need of help, especially if they are elderly, disabled, or have a chronic illness.

The signs to look out for are milk bottles or newspapers not taken in, mail not being removed and curtains remaining drawn throughout the day.
Keeping warm can be a problem for everyone, particularly older people. Being a good neighbour is important at any time but particularly in winter, when distress or illness can be caused by the cold.

It is estimated that more than a million elderly people will spend a cold Christmas alone in the UK this winter.

If you have concerns about someone’s welfare, phone them or call round. A few minutes spent having a cup of tea with a housebound or live-alone neighbour breaks the monotony of a lonely day and can make the world of difference.

Here are some key tips for keeping warm this winter:
● Try to keep a constant temperature of 21C (70F) throughout the house;
● Make sure your home is well insulated, use draught excluders and keep curtains closed, but do not block up air vents;
● Take a little exercise every day;

Wear several layers of clothing rather than just one thick one, as this is more insulating;
Wrap up warm before going out, wear gloves, a hat, cap or head scarf.

Keep warm but keep safe. Portable heaters should be kept away from curtains and furniture and not used to dry clothes. Always unplug electric heaters before going out or going to bed.

Cheshire East Councillor Roland Domleo, Cabinet member with responsibility for adult services, said: “Winter is a particularly challenging time for our vulnerable and elderly residents. Being a good neighbour can help reassure this section of our community and help save lives.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey, Cabinet member with responsibility for safer and stronger communities, said: “Popping in to check that vulnerable neighbours are warm and safe during the severe winter weather can take just a few minutes a week and bring real reassurance and comfort to people.

“I would urge everyone to make an extra effort to keep a friendly eye out this winter for sick, infirm and elderly neighbours.”

If you have concerns about an elderly or vulnerable person during the cold weather, ring Cheshire East Council’s social care team on 0300 123 5010.

But it is not just elderly and infirm people who need to take extra care during the freezing conditions.

In the event of severe winter weather, it is important that you follow the emergency advice and ‘Go In, Stay In, Tune In’.

Be aware of any severe winter weather warnings for your area to ensure you have enough time to prepare. You can find these at Also, listen out for weather and travel bulletins on your local radio stations.

In addition you should: only make necessary journeys; allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination; make sure your vehicle is in a suitable condition to make the journey and tell someone where you are going.

Keep an emergency ‘grab bag’ in your car. It should include appropriate clothing, a blanket, shovel, windscreen scraper, mobile phone and charger, water and snacks, jump leads and tow rope.

Drive safely – appropriate low speed, low revs/higher gear, no sudden braking, allow the engine to slow the vehicle where possible, allow plenty of distance between vehicles and make no sudden manoeuvres.

Cheshire Local Resilience Forum recently launched a new public awareness-raising campaign about coping with weather extremes and other emergencies called: Help us to Help you, Be Prepared for Emergencies.

Copies of the information leaflet are available from many venues, from libraries and leisure centres to health premises and hospitals.

The Cheshire Local Resilience Forum leaflet is also available online. Visit and click on the how to prepare/emergency pocket leaflet link.

As the freeze continues, householders, who may be concerned about their heating bills, can get free energy-saving advice about from the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512012.

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