Hypothermia - Prevention 

Preventing hypothermia 

There are simple measures you can take to prevent you, your child or elderly relatives getting hypothermia.

Staying warm inside

Keep an eye on elderly or ill neighbours and relatives to ensure they are keeping their house warm during cold weather. The government offers a winter fuel payment for older people living alone who are at risk of getting hypothermia. Keeping windows and internal doors closed will also help trap heat.

Use a room thermometer to ensure your house is at the right temperature. If you have reduced mobility, are 65 and over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, the Department of Health recommends heating your home to at least 18°C (64.4°F).

If you are under the age of 65, active, and wearing appropriate clothing, you may wish to heat your home to a temperature at which you are comfortable, even if it is slightly lower than 18ºC.

If you have a baby, keep the room they sleep in at 16-20°C (61-68°F).

A healthy diet with plenty of fluids, warm drinks and regular meals can help provide energy so your body can generate heat. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking can also help as they all increase the rate at which the body loses heat.

If you're ill, visit your local pharmacy or GP to ensure you're treated promptly and effectively. If you're taking regular medication, ask whether it affects your body's ability to regulate temperature.

See keep warm, keep well for more information and advice.

Staying warm outside

Make sure you are prepared for cold weather by checking the forecast and weather warnings on the Met Office website.

Wear appropriate warm clothing in cold weather and make sure your children are well wrapped up when outdoors. A significant amount of body heat can be lost through the head, even if the rest of the body is covered up, so you and your children should wear a warm hat.

Multiple thin layers of clothing trap air, which keeps you warm more effectively than one thick layer. Waterproof and windproof clothing gives the best protection outdoors in the sort of weather conditions found in the UK.

Eating and drinking regularly (but not alcohol and caffeine) and having warm drinks can also help keep you warm outside.

Keep active when it's cold, but not to the point where you are sweating. If you exercise outdoors during the winter and you sweat after exercising, make sure you dry off and put on warm clothes immediately afterwards. Wet clothes lose around 90% of their insulating power.

Page last reviewed: 28/05/2013

Next review due: 28/05/2015

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