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Planning Retirement Online

Don't keep your cool

December 2016

person clutching a hot water bottle

Keeping warm has gone out of fashion. The Scandinavian love of icy swims and the rugged hardiness of striding out in freezing conditions is penetrating Britain, with more and more events and activities now being set up to show our resilience to bad weather.

But trying to over fight cold weather is not always the best thing.

According to Spring Chicken, experts in products for the over 60s, this hearty hardiness is not good for everyone.

“There are reasons why death rates peak during cold spells,” said Sarah Boyle, co-founder of Spring Chicken. "For instance, there are many studies showing cold weather can cause a rise in blood pressure and suppress the immune system. Also, cold doesn’t kill all infections off, some infectious diseases including flu viruses can thrive in cold weather.”

With weather forecasters now predicting a colder than average season thanks to a change in high-altitude winds, Sarah says it is important to think about the unfashionable – keeping really warm in cold weather. This is especially important for seniors and people with health conditions.

Professor Keith Willett, NHS England medical director for acute care, says there are important things people can do to take care of themselves during cold spells. He advised people to keep their homes warm, have regular hot drinks and meals, and to see a pharmacist at the first sign of health problems.

There is also a host of great new products which incorporate technology and the latest materials to keep everyone warm as toast wherever they are. From electronically heated jackets and seat pads to gel hand warmers and high protection thermal fabrics, there is no need for anyone today to be cold.

Spring Chicken has put together a list of the latest top 10 ideas for keeping warm:

  1. Go electronic. Today small batteries can power real heat in a huge range of clothing from socks to gloves, coats and blankets.

  2. Cat and dog flaps are rarely considered but can let in a lot of cold air. They can be filled with wool insulation or pieces of blanket that can give extra protection but can be easily pushed aside by animals.

  3. Invest in modern fabrics. That old favourite jumper may feel and look great still, but it will have lost its warmth after many washes. Modern thermal vests and undergarments really do have extra properties to keep the warmth in. Layering clothes as well can help.

  4. Be aware of alcohol before going out in the cold. Alcohol can make you feel warm because it can cause blood vessels to expand, but this means heat can also be drawn away from vital organs.

  5. Think small insulation. Poorly fitting outside doors and letter boxes , loft doors, wide keyholes, thin curtains, these should all be improved in a modern home. Insulated front doors and thermal insulated curtains can make a huge difference.

  6. Use a room thermostat. It can be too easy to be sitting down and gradually get cold without realising it until your body temperature has really dropped.

  7. A hat won’t do the trick. It used to be thought that we lose more body heat through our head than anywhere else. Now new research shows this isn’t true…in fact all exposed areas including feet and hands will help reduce body temperature.  Think a hat for sure, but think gloves and thick socks too.

  8. Sounds a little old fashioned, but tin foil is an excellent heat protector. Pop a layer down behind wall radiators to reflect heat back into the room.  You can purchase special protectors to do this job as well. A shelf above the radiator will also help reflect heat down into the room instead of letting it rise above your head.

  9. Hot food. It is easier to heat a body than a room. Hot soups, regular hot drinks can make a big difference.

  10. Movement. Sitting still is the worst. Even if you are computer bound or watching tv, get up every hour and do some exercises or at least some real movement. If your blood isn’t flowing, your body temperature especially in the extremities can cool off rapidly.

Spring Chicken has set up a new section of keeping warm which covers the latest products to help keep everyone snug and cosy, and the National Health has put up a dedicated page to help people deal with cold weather.


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