Monday, January 28, 2013

Surviving the Winter Freeze

Extracts from the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network Newsletter:


Your guide to surviving the winter freeze
As the country receives its annual covering of snow, we all have to take extra care of ourselves and our properties. Here’s our advice for keeping your home safe this winter.
Outside: Check the condition of your roof and clear your gutters and drain pipes of any leaves or debris that have built up. Keep gates and outbuilding doors fastened securely and secure any other loose items. Check external light fittings are secure and cut back any low hanging branches that could cause damage in high winds or storms.
Inside: Have your boiler serviced at least once a year by a GasSafe registered professional and don’t forget to get your central heating and gas fires checked.
Check that your loft is insulated properly but ensure that it has adequate ventilation.
Keep your central heating set to at least 10 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing. Thicker curtains will also help to keep more heat in the home.
In an emergency: Keep a home emergency kit prepared in case of a winter emergency such as a severe snowstorm. This could include: Torches, spare bulbs and batteries, your home insurance documents, other emergency contact details, tinned food, warm clothing, blankets and a shovel. Listen out for regular updates on the weather or other emergency situations.

Age UK Spread the Warmth - Top Tips
Top tips from Age UK to help older people understand how to protect their health in winter:
  • It’s harder to judge temperatures as you get older. Use a thermometer to detect changes and act quickly. Keep your living room at 70°F (21°c) if possible.
  • Exposure to the cold during the night puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Keep your bedroom at 65°F (18°c).
  • It’s a common misconception that sleeping with the window open all year round is healthy. Keeping windows open on a winter night puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
  • Protect your fingers, mouth and head – these parts of your body are more sensitive to changes in temperature. Breathing in cold air can increase your chances of becoming seriously ill. Wrap up well when you go outside.
You can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where you can order a free copy of ‘Winter wrapped up’ and a free thermometer. Alternatively you can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide and get lots more information for yourself or friends and family.

Avoid running into danger
If your New Year resolution is to get fit and you’re thinking about running around the streets or jogging through the local park in the mornings or after work, then you might like to have a read of this article from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on how to do it safely >>> Click!

Safer Internet Day 2013
The theme for Safer Internet Day 2013 is Online Rights and Responsibilities with the slogan ‘Connect with Respect’. Safer Internet Day 2013 will take place on 5th February, and this will be the tenth anniversary of the event.
Why not get involved and help raise awareness of internet safety for this year’s Safer Internet Day? There are many things you can do, including helping to spread the word about the Day and running activities with children and young people, parents and carers and others in the community.
To find out more, click here. For further advice and to find out about the latest scams visit www.getsafeonline.org

Case Study - Fred’s Story
Fred lives on his own in a very dark small bungalow at the end of a street of sheltered accommodation which has a Neighbourhood Watch scheme with a street coordinator.
A resident noticed that Fred, who was very elderly and not very well, was not going out like he used to. He was staying in on his own; no longer shopping, socialising or sitting in his garden, his favourite occupation. She was concerned and yet shy about knocking and asking if he was O.K. So she went to her Neighbourhood Watch coordinator and said: “I think that Fred has a problem”.
The coordinator called and found that Fred was being terrorised by young people using a passageway to the side of his property. They had picked out large holes in his fence and were abusing him and shouting at him through them, right alongside his patio where he would sit and the bedroom where he slept. Fred was terrified that at any given moment ‘they’ would come. So he had locked his doors and stayed in.
The coordinator was not having this! With Fred’s permission she networked with her Village Coordinator and their PCSO. They met with him. The PCSO linked them with the council and with a charity and between them all they sorted the anti-social behaviour, had Fred’s fence rebuilt free of charge, visited him and encouraged him. In no time at all he was restored to his former self.

And from the Chair
I hope that you all had a very enjoyable Christmas and may I wish you all a healthy and safe New Year.
For many of us the first snows of winter, blocked roads, disruptions to public transport are a vivid reminder that not everyone can get out and about, to go about their daily lives - such as trips to the shops or visits to the doctors, as we do.
Please remember your neighbours at this time. We all accept that the principles of Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch are primarily about crime prevention, target hardening and property marking but often this is achieved by the development of community cohesion, which includes taking care of our elderly and vulnerable neighbours. They are a valuable resource in the community and must be looked after.
Age UK’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign offers great advice on how to keep elderly and vulnerable people warm and healthy during these wintry conditions, so I urge members to take a look at this campaign.
Once again may I take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and crime free New Year.
James Maddan (NHWN Chair)

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