Keeping warm | Oxfordshire County Council

Keeping warm

Helping yourself and vulnerable people to stay warm.

Keeping warm

There is a direct link between cold winter weather and the higher number of deaths, heart attacks and strokes among older people and others in at-risk groups.

How to keep yourself warm

The NHS Choices website has a range of practical tips for keeping warm at home.

Safety is important in all aspects of keeping yourself warm. Care should be taken when using electric blankets or filling hot water bottles. Never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together, as this is extremely dangerous and could give you an electric shock.

If you use an electric blanket, make sure it is safe to use by getting it tested every three years.

Insulating and heating your home efficiently

If you are struggling with your fuel bills or need information on how to keep warm this winter, visit the Better Housing Better Health website for free, impartial advice on:

  • cheaper prices for gas and electricity
  • discounts for insulating your home
  • managing debts from your fuel bills
  • repairing or replacing your heating
  • energy saving tips that save you money
  • other options for help and support.

How district councils provide assistance to help residents remain safe, secure, independent and warm.

Financial help

You may be eligible for a winter fuel payment or a cold weather payment to help pay for keeping warm in winter, especially during periods of very cold weather.

Information and advice to help you this winter on the Age UK website.

Find information about keeping warm near me

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Looking out for trouble

If someone has had an accident in their home (for example, fallen and injured themselves) or fallen ill, they may not be able to attract the attention of neighbours, passers-by or people who call at the door.

Always be on the look-out for signs that something might be wrong, especially when the weather is cold. For instance:

  • milk not taken in late in the day
  • newspapers stuck in the letterbox
  • curtains drawn during the day
  • lights burning during the day
  • home in darkness when there should be someone at home
  • dog barking all day or the cat scratching to be let in.


It is important to prevent people from becoming cold in the first place. Family, friends and neighbours in the community can look out for those who might be at risk from the cold. Prevention is always easier than cure.

Is the cold costing your health?

Many people think hypothermia is the main risk of being cold.  In fact, at around 16°C your body reacts to the cold, mostly by thickening the blood and narrowing blood vessels.  These changes result in an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.  The colder air also affects breathing, particularly for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

When outdoor temperatures are between 4°C and 8°C for two or three days at a time, the number of deaths caused by strokes, respiratory incidents and heart attacks rise, between 2 and 40 days after this period of cold weather. Download the government's cold weather plan paper Making the Case: Why long-term strategic planning for cold weather is essential to health and wellbeing (pdf format) for more information.

If you are worried about you or someone you knows health and how the home may be affecting it, please go the Better Housing Better Health website for free, impartial advice.

The Oxfordshire Affordable Warmth Network

The Health and Wellbeing Strategy (pdf format) for Oxfordshire, includes a section on the impact of cold homes on the health of Oxfordshire residents.  The Oxfordshire Affordable Warmth Network (AWN) reports to the Health Improvement Board about the work the partners do to reduce fuel poverty.  The AWN is made up of district councils and the county council as well as third sector partners, such as CAB, Age UK and the Oxford Diocese.

Local figures can be found on the Public Health Outcomes website for fuel poverty and excess winter deaths (EWS).

Last reviewed
27 November 2017
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