Evidence suggests that more Australians die from the cold than the heat. Winter is prime time for colds and flu or more serious cold-related condition. If you have health conditions such as respiratory issues or cardiovascular illness, keeping warm in winter is particularly important.
Follow these simple guidelines to keep warm this winter.
April is a good time to prepare your home before winter sets in. It’s a good idea to:
- Get your gas heater serviced by a registered gas fitter at least once every two years
- Check the wiring on electric blankets, heaters and other appliances to ensure they are in good condition
- Clean heater filters of dust and make sure heaters are unpacked and ready for cold weather
- Unpack your winter clothes and make sure that you have easy and ready access to layers of comfortable clothing
- Install draught proofing devices to doors and windows
- If possible, insulate your external hot water pipe on your water heater
- Check the batteries on your smoke alarm
- Community Care may be able to help with some of these tasks. See our Home Maintenance page for more details.
2. Keep your home warm during the day
We recommend heating your home to about 21°C during the day. Exposure to long-term cold can cause circulation and respiratory issues and make your home susceptible to mould.
Here are some tips to increase the warmth of your home:
- If you have a timer, set it to come on before you wake up
- Close the doors to rooms that you won’t use much during the day
- Turn the heating off to rooms that aren’t used
- On sunny days, open your blinds to let the light and warmth in
3. Keep your home warm at night
Keeping warm at night will help ensure a good night’s rest and keep your immune system strong to fight colds and flus.
To keep your home warm at night:
- Use a heat pack or an electric blanket
- Hot water bottles are great, but be careful when filling them and never use them with an electric blanket
- Get your electric blanket tested for safety once every three years and always make sure that wires are in good condition
- When using electric blankets, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave them on for more than 30 minutes and turn them off when you go to bed.
- Make sure that you keep your room is well insulated with windows, curtains and blinds drawn shut to keep warm are in the room
4. Dress for warmth
- Light layers will keep you warmer and are more practical than one large item of winter clothing
- Cotton, fleece and wool help to maintain body heat
- Thick socks and slippers keep your feet warm
- If you need to leave the house, be sure to wear a coat, hat, gloves and scarf as well as warm socks and sturdy shoes with good grip
- When walking outside, use a scarf to cover your nose and mouth to protect your lungs from cold or damp air
- Invest in bed socks and thermal underwear for cold nights
5. Stay healthy
- Regular meals keep your energy levels high enough to generate body heat. Warm foods and drinks help to raise your body temperature.
- Light exercise also helps to generate body heat. It’s a good idea to move a little bit at least once an hour. If you have to sit for longer periods, use a blanket or heat pack on your knees to keep you warm.
- Look out for older or frail neighbours or relatives to make sure they are warm and safe. Even a phone call to check in on very cold days could help someone fend off illness due to cold weather.
- Annual flu vaccinations will reduce the risk of flu infections and subsequent complications. See our Immunisations page for more details.
6. Stay safe
It’s important to remain vigilant about housefires during winter:
- Check that all heaters, flues and chimneys are in good working condition
- Turn heaters off before you leave the house and before you go to bed
- Never leave cooking, heaters, open fires or candles unattended
- When using electric blankets, follow manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave them on when you go to bed and make sure that they aren’t turned on for more than thirty minutes at a time
- If you have a clothes horse, be sure to dry clothing at least a metre away from heaters
- Never smoke in bed
- Prepare a home fire escape plan and practice it
7. Rake up your leaves for the Council’s leaf pickup schedule
Benalla Rural City Council does a leaf pickup during winter, depending on weather conditions and the amount of leaf drop occurring. Contact the Customer Service Centre on 03 5760 2600 to be added to the leaf pickup schedule.
Extreme heat has led to more deaths than any other natural disaster in Australia. It is important to plan for extended periods of hot weather and heat waves, especially in an environment like Benalla Rural City, which is becoming increasingly prone to heat waves.
Extreme heat can affect anybody and cause illnesses including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Stay healthy in extreme heat
People most at risk from extreme heat include those aged over 65, people who may have a medical condition such as diabetes, people with a disability, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, babies and young children and people who work or are physically active outdoors.
If you are experiencing health difficulties due to heat exposure you should see your doctor, contact Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24 or for urgent assistance or in an emergency call 000.
Strategies for coping with heat
- Keep cool by spending as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings
- Drink plenty of water
- Stay out of the sun and wear a hat if you have to go out
- Avoid strenuous activity such as sports, home improvements or gardening
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Never leave children, adults or animals in parked vehicles
- Stay in touch with sick or frail friends, neighbours or relatives.
Keep cool at these facilities:
In extreme weather conditions, the risk of power outage is greater and people should be prepared and have a plan to manage blackouts. Consider your need for back-up power if you are highly reliant on electricity and don’t rely on power as part of any bushfire preparedness plan.
Remember power outages can also affect phones, radios and water pumps - so arrange for alternatives don’t need electricity supply.
- Have a battery-powered radio and spare batteries available to hear alerts and warnings in case the power fails.
- A fully charged mobile phone or spare battery is a great backup for those who do not have a landline.
- Keep a list of contacts written down near the phone, including emergency contacts such as the SES
- Keep a battery-powered torch in an easily accessible place
- Have a non-electric pump available that can be operated from an alternative water supply such as a swimming pool, tank or dam.
If you have special needs that require an uninterrupted power supply, you’ll need to report this to your electricity retailer and ensure that you always keep your contact details updated with them.
More information about power outages and other electrical emergencies, go to the Energy Safe Victoria website.