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Support to help vulnerable residents stay warm this winter

Winter Watch

Winter Watch offers advice and help to older people, people with disabilities or long term health conditions and families with very young children whose health and well being is most at risk because their homes are cold and damp. This includes:

  • a home energy check and advice on how to keep warm and healthy
  • encouraging people take up the grants available (ECO) to improve the insulation and heating in their homes
  • helping people get minor repairs carried out to their homes to stop draughts and protect them from the cold and emergency heating when possible

To get help from the Winter Watch Scheme, please call 0118 937 3747 or email: winterwatch@reading.gov.uk

For more information, please visit the Winter Watch information page in the Related Links section.

Cavity wall and loft insulation

If you own your own home or are a private tenant and you are over 70 years of age or receive an income related or disability benefit you  could get FREE cavity wall and loft insulation to help keep your home warm. A substantial discount
is available to other households. Call Heatseekers on 0800 111 4968.

Winter fuel payment

If you have reached the qualifying age and you receive certain benefits or a state pension you should get a Winter Fuel Payment to help pay for heating in winter. Call the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 08459 15 15 15. Textphone 0845 601 5613.

More info can be fouind on the Gov.uk website (please see Related Links)

Cold weather payment

If you are on a low income and receive certain benefits you may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment if the temperature falls below zero for seven days or more in a row between 1 November and 31 March. If you qualify you should get this payment automatically. Call 0845 604 3719.

Priority service register

All energy suppliers have a priority service register for households with vulnerable residents. By signing up to this you will be entitled to special services including:

  • Free annual gas safety checks
  • Extra consideration if there is an interruption to the power supply if you rely on power for medical equipment
  • Password schemes to protect you from bogus callers
  • Advice on energy efficiency, bills and price plans
  • Providing bills in easy-to-read formats.

Call your energy supplier to register.

Social tariff

If you get disability allowances, benefits or tax credits you may qualify for your energy supplier’s Social Tariff (contact them directly). This is their cheapest tariff for gas and
electricity. 

However, if you can pay monthly direct debit or have internet billing you may get better deals and it always worth shopping around to see what other offers are available – use a price comparison service like energy helpline. Call 0800 074 0745 or visit the Energy Helpline website.

Home heat helpline

If you’re struggling to pay your gas and electricity bill, or you are already in debt with your supplier(s) the Home Heat Helpline will give you advice on benefits and grants that are available from trust funds to pay off outstanding debts.

They will put you in touch with the right person in your energy company and offer advice on making your home more energy efficient. Call the Home Heat Helpline for free on 0800 33 66 99.

What are the warning signs of hyporthermia?

Sometimes it is hard to tell if a person has hypothermia. Look for clues. Is the house very cold? Is the person not dressed for cold weather? Is the person speaking slower than normal and having trouble keeping his or her balance?

Watch for the signs of hypothermia in yourself, too. You might become confused if your body temperature gets very low. Talk to your family and friends about the warning signs so they can look out for you.

Early signs of hypothermia:

  • Cold feet and hands
  • Puffy or swollen face
  • Pale skin
  • Shivering (in some cases the person with hypothermia does not shiver)
  • Slower than normal speech or slurring words
  • Acting sleepy
  • Being angry or confused

 Later signs of hypothermia:

  • Moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
  • Stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Blacking out or losing consciousness

Call an ambulance right away if you think someone has warning signs of hypothermia.

What to do after you call 999:

  • Try to move the person to a warmer place.
  • Wrap the person in a warm blanket, towels, or coats—whatever is handy. Even your own body warmth will help. Lie close, but be gentle.
  • Give the person something warm to drink, but avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, such as regular coffee.
  • Do not rub the person's legs or arms.
  • Do not try to warm the person in a bath.
  • Do not use a heating pad.
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