RESIDENTS in East Sussex are being urged to take action now to ensure they stay warm and well this winter.

The cold weather can be dangerous for vulnerable groups such as families with young children, older people and those with long-term illnesses.

Living in a cold home can be harmful to health by making health conditions worse, as well as impacting on people’s mental health.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, said: “We’ve enjoyed a relatively mild autumn so far, but as winter approaches and temperatures fall, it’s important people are aware of the effect the cold can have on vulnerable groups.

“The cold can be very harmful to health and unfortunately, we know there are people in East Sussex who struggle to keep their homes warm.

“It’s vital that people at risk stay warm and well by keeping their home, particularly the living room and bedroom, heated to at least 18C (65F) throughout the winter – and not just when the temperature plummets to near the freezing mark.”

People who struggle to keep their homes warm can get support and advice through the council’s Warm Home Check service.

The service offers telephone advice for anyone struggling to afford to keep warm at home, with money-saving advice and tips on how to stay warm for less.

Eligible households can also receive a home energy efficiency assessment which includes advice on how to reduce energy costs and details of the financial support available to help with heating costs.

Assistance with small home improvement measures such as pipe insulation, draught-proofing or radiator reflector panels may also be available.

Other tips to keep warm and well include layering clothes to help trap in warm air, wearing non-slip footwear both indoors and out, moving about regularly, drawing the curtains at dusk, and having hot meals and drinks.

It is also important people get their seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations if they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from these illnesses. This includes older people and other vulnerable groups including pregnant women, carers and people with certain health conditions.

Those eligible for an NHS flu vaccine can book an appointment at their GP surgery or visit a pharmacy offering the vaccination. People eligible for the COVID-19 will be invited to attend their GP surgery or to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment online.

Mr Gale continued: “On average we see over 550 avoidable deaths a year in East Sussex as a result of the cold. Estimates suggest that one in ten of these deaths are directly attributable to fuel poverty and 22 per cent are attributable to cold homes.

“Now the clocks have gone back and the nights start to draw in, I encourage all residents to think about making sure they can stay warm and well this winter.

“And if you have older neighbours or relatives, please check on them to make sure they’re safe and well when the winter weather bites.”

For more advice and tips on staying warm and well visit www.warmeastsussex.org.uk.

To apply for a warm home check visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/keepwarm, text WARM to 80011 or call 0800 464 7307. This service is provided by RetrofitWorks and Citizens Advice East Sussex.

Residents can also sign up to the free coldAlert service which provides alerts when severe cold weather events are forecast, helping people prepare for a cold snap.

People can register to receive cold alerts via text, voicemail message or email by signing up at www.coldalert.info.