How can we all keep safe this winter?
There’s a chill in the air and we’ve had some frosty mornings. Cold and flu season is now in full swing so how can we all keep safe this winter with Covid still present?
There are lots of ways that we can protect ourselves from COVID-19 this winter. We just need to choose the ones that are right for us.
You can continue to practice social distancing. There are different levels of social distancing from completely social distancing (where possible) to choosing to meet a select number of people outside or in well ventilated areas or meeting a few people inside. You can choose to socially distance from elderly family and friends and those with health conditions to protect them further. There are also lanyard schemes, where you can have a lanyard or badge, to show you are social distancing so people can give you the space that you need. Some of these include listing a health condition if you would like people to know why you are socially distancing. This way you can tell people visually without having to explain why.
You can wear a mask when you’re in busy and enclosed spaces; when travelling on public transport, in the workplace or visiting the supermarket.
Good hand washing
It’s important to continue with good hand hygiene, not only to reduce the risk of COVID-19 but, to reduce the risk of other common winter illnesses like colds and flu.
If you are elderly, vulnerable and/or have a health condition like Asthma you can choose to self-shield. You can order your shopping on-line and most pharmacies offer a home delivery service for their at-risk patients in their community.
Lateral Flow Tests
Lateral flow tests are for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order lateral flow tests online to be sent to your home or you can pick them up from a test site or pharmacy. You perform these tests yourself if you are over the age of 11.
The test usually involves taking a sample from your throat and nose, or from your nose only, using a swab. You get your result in 15 to 30 minutes.
PCR tests are for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can order these online to be sent to your home. Then you post the test to a lab for the results. Or you can visit a drive-through or walk-in test site. You can perform these tests yourself if you are over the age of 12.
The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You have to wait for the result and will receive this by text message and/or email.
Antibody Self Tests
Antibody Self Tests are for people to find out if they have protective antibodies to COVID-19 from natural infection and/or vaccination. You can order these tests online. You perform these tests yourself.
The test needs only a tiny drop of blood and you get your results in just 20 minutes.
If you’re eligible and you want to, you can book a booster vaccine online or at a walk-in site.
If you’re eligible or you want to, you can book a flu vaccine at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
Wrap it up
Make sure you keep yourself warm and wrap up using layers so you can adjust them according to the temperature. Keep hydrated, eat healthily and have something warm to eat and drink throughout the day.
Keep your home warm. You can get help with your heating costs and there’s information available on the Government website. Also keep an eye on your local weather forecast for any severe weather warnings so you can be prepared for the weather during the winter period.
As much as we sometimes find it hard to get out from under our warm and cosy duvets it’s great to get out in the fresh air. Try to enjoy a brisk walk a couple of times a week. You always feel better after a going for a good old stroll and giving yourself an airing!
Look after your mental well-being
There are lots of self-help tools available online from methods of managing emotions to common mental health conditions. Everyone responds differently to situations and methods so remember not every tool will work for you. Spend some time finding out which is the right one for you.
You can also contact mental health professionals for more support and you could ask your GP which services are available locally.
Look after each other
Look out for your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours as some people may need a bit of extra help and care.
We all want to help prevent any further restrictions. If we all keep safe this winter, we can hopefully avoid another lockdown and enjoy spending quality time with our loved ones.