Staying well through winter: be prepared

Cold and damp weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you have a long term health condition or are 65 or older. But there’s lots you can do to prepare yourself and stay well this winter.

On this page you’ll find advice to:

Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked

Keep yourself active

Keep warm indoors

Look out for others

Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked

Ask your local pharmacist for advice

Ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season. Many over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sinusitis or earache. Your pharmacist can help if you need any advice.

Order your repeat prescriptions in time, especially for Christmas and New Year bank holidays

It’s best to order repeat prescriptions before you run out of the medicines you need. You might need a quick review to check you’re on the right medicines, so be sure to take up the offer from your GP practice if you get an invite. And make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas. If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed.

You can order prescriptions via GP or pharmacy websites and apps or by calling them. Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you if you’re unable to go yourself. Please don’t go to your GP or pharmacy if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or flu or if you have diarrhoea and vomiting.

You can also order your repeat prescriptions via the NHS App. The NHS App is available on the App Store and on Google Play. For more information visit

If you live with a long-term health condition, such as asthma, HIV, Parkinson’s, MS or sickle cell, you may be able to save money on your prescriptions. A Prescription Prepayment Certificate will save you money if you pay for more than three items in three months, or 11 items in 12 months. Check if you could get a Prescription Prepayment Certificate

If you are on a low income, you could be entitled to help with NHS costs or free prescriptions depending on your circumstances. Check if you’re eligible for help using the online eligibility checker.

Vitamin D supplements

Between October and March, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make vitamin D. During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

Some people are more vulnerable to being deficient, such as those who are less mobile and spend most their time indoors. If you’re unsure whether you’re getting enough vitamin D, ask your pharmacist, GP or health visitor about taking a supplement.

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Keep yourself active

Regular exercise can help improve your mental health, reduce the risk of falling and can be beneficial for recovery if you do get ill.

There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, housework, gardening, dancing or taking part in online fitness classes. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving.

Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you’re feeling any pain or lightheaded and stay hydrated.

Useful links

NHS Get Active – NHS fitness apps and workouts you can do at home.

Sport England – list of useful apps and links to online workouts, including workouts for older adults, with kids and disabled children.

Get Active – online exercises workouts, including ones suitable for older people and those living with a long term health condition.

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Keep warm indoors

Where possible try to keep moving when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so and wear several layers of light clothes – several layers trap warm air better than one bulky layer. Try to eat at least one hot meal a day.

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F) if you can. Breathing cold air can increase the risk of chest infections and being cold for an extended period can lead to hypothermia.

Find out about support available to help you stay warm

Make sure you’re receiving all the help you’re entitled to. You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home, as well as other benefits.

Lambeth Council information and support directory

Cost of living , money and debt support from Lambeth Council, local charities, and community groups – if you’re facing financial hardship and struggling with energy bills, food costs and other issues this winter

Save energy and keep warm in your home – practical advice from the Council on saving energy and staying warm indoors this winter; includes links to energy efficiency grants and services.

Age UK Lambeth MYCommunity Service

Age UK Lambeth run a helpline service you can call for general advice. They’ll tell you about support that’s available locally and they can also do a welfare benefit assessment to see if you are eligible for Pension Credit or other benefits to help you pay for winter fuel bills.

Call: 0333 360 3700

Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Age UK Lambeth Warm and Well – HandyFix Service

If you’re 65 and over, or 55+ with a long-term health condition, Age UK’s HandyFix Service can help with home energy checks and practical solutions to keep your house warm. This could include draught excluders and insulation for doors, windows and radiators. Discounted costs for labour apply.

Call: 0333 360 3990.

Opening hours: 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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Look out for others

Check in on older neighbours and relatives, and those with heart or breathing problems to make sure they

  • are safe and well
  • are warm enough, especially at night, and
  • have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather

If they need help over the holiday period when the GP practice or pharmacy is closed or they’re not sure what to do, remind them NHS 111 can help – just call 111 or access NHS 111 online

If you’re worried about a relative or elderly neighbour’s health or how they’re coping at home, you can seek advice by calling the Age UK Lambeth helpline on 0333 360 3700 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) or Age UK national helpline on 0800 678 1602 (8am to 7pm every day).

There is a range of health and wellbeing support available to adults in Lambeth, so you could share this information with your relative or neighbour.

See Lambeth Council information on health and wellbeing support available to adults in Lambeth

For those with higher levels of care and support needs, you can use the Adult Social Care Eligibility Tool to see if they may qualify for specific help from Lambeth Council Adult Social Care.

Check Lambeth Adult Social Care Eligibility tool

If you’re concerned the person may have hypothermia, contact NHS 111.

Volunteer opportunities in Lambeth

Local charities are always on the lookout for volunteers over winter. There are lots of different ways you can take part in activities, community workshops and programmes in the borough.

Register here for local volunteering opportunities.

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