Seasonal health and safety: Winter

A change in seasons can be a great time to stop and check in on yourself or someone you care for, make sure you are ready for the different challenges and opportunities that may arise related to the weather.

Health Information

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious infection that is more serious than the common cold. Annual vaccination against seasonal flu can reduce your chances of getting the flu and can also reduce the severity of flu symptoms if you do catch the flu.

In 2020 the Australian Government recommends everyone aged six months and over get immunised against seasonal flu.

Before Covid-19, we know many other common infectious diseases such as colds and flu are spread by germs on our hands. Now, more than ever, it is important to reduce the risk of getting sick or passing infections on to others by washing your hands, wiping down frequently touched surfaces, and covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

Always wash your hands before eating.
Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag for clean hands on the go.

Most of us are good at keeping ourselves hydrated in summer- it’s hot and we want to drink. Keeping up with fluid intake over winter needs a bit more effort, but is essential for good health. Maintain a diet filled with fruit and vegetables to keep the body and immune system healthy.

Try filling a jug or water bottle each day to help monitor how much you drink and set of goal of at least 8 cups a day, unless otherwise recommended by a health professional.
Frozen fruit and vegetables retain high levels of nutrients as they are frozen straight after picking, this can be a great way to add variety and convenience to your diet during winter.

Everyone is encouraged to be active for at least 30min each day. Exercise supports a healthy body from head to toe. Exercise has been demonstrated to support good brain health, assist in positive mental health and can help reduce stress.

Pick an activity which you enjoy as you are more likely to keep it up.
Set goals to keep you motivated, such as increase time, distance or speed.

While it’s cold outside, it can be less inviting to get out and about and meet people and this can affect our mental health. Make sure you maintain social connections through winter to keep your brain active and mood positive. Maybe try keeping your brain stimulated by learning something new or teaching others.

Maximise technology to help you stay connected.
Make a plan to get out and involve others- you are less likely to cancel if you have committed.

Home safety

Heat sources can be a hazard. Make sure heaters are checked annually, never leave any flame unattended and ensure smoke detectors are working.

Develop a fire plan for your house and make sure everyone knows it.

Slips and trips happen all year round but wet and slippery surfaces can add to this during winter months. Ensure pathways are kept clean and free of leaf litter and moss and make you have adequate lighting indoors and outside to reduce your risk of falls.

Install sensor lights outside or in hallways for nighttime safety.
Make sure your footwear fits well and has adequate traction. If in doubt see a podiatrist for advice.

Most Australian houses are designed to keep cool in summer, keeping warm in winter temperatures sometimes feel like afterthought. Many people suffer adverse health effects due to cold in winter rather than heat in summer, especially older adults or people with chronic health conditions.

Seal drafts and gaps that let cold air move in and through your home.
Seek support if you have trouble or concerns regarding paying energy bills.

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