A national campaign, Get Ready for Winter, is getting underway this week to highlight simple advice such as top tips for travelling, and offer a central source of further advice and guidance at www.direct.gov.uk/getreadyforwinter
Director of Public Health for Medway Dr Alison Barnett said: "There are simple things that people can do to improve their chances of staying well, and of recovering quickly if they do fall ill.
"We have had two winters of heavy snowfall and it is sensible for people to be prepared in case we have another one. It will help them stay safe and stay well, while ensuring emergency lifesaving services are kept free for those who really need them."
If you’re over 65, have a serious long-term condition such as diabetes, or are pregnant or a carer, please take up the offer of a free flu jab this winter from your GP. Please contact your practice direct if you have not heard from them.
Using liquid soap to wash your hands thoroughly is your best weapon against infection. Use a tissue (not a handkerchief) to catch coughs and sneezes, throw it away and wash your hands - to Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.
Most sore throats, coughs, colds and flu are caused by viruses. The main symptoms are coughing, sneezing, blocked nose, sore throat, headache and a temperature.
Cold and flu remedies available from a pharmacy will help. Your GP will not be able to prescribe antibiotics because antibiotics have no effect on colds or flu.
At this time of year, gastroenteritis is common. It is often caused by Norovirus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, which is extremely infectious. The illness is unpleasant but it’s usually over within a couple of days.
When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important to drink plenty of water or rehydration fluids (available from pharmacies) to prevent dehydration.
Norovirus is highly contagious and it can be life-threatening if caught by someone who is already very ill and frail. Please help minimise the risk of an outbreak by staying away from hospitals for 72 hours if you are either vomiting and have diarrhoea, or have come in to contact with someone who has.
If you are finding it hard to keep down fluids, try taking small sips more frequently.
Try to eat a light diet of foods that are easy to digest, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread. Babies should be given their normal feed throughout .
Stay away from work or school until you have been symptom free for 48 hours.
Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm. The recommended minimum for rooms you use during the day is 21C (70F) and for bedrooms is 18C (65F).
Draft proofing your home is an easy way to help keep you and your home warmer and save money on heating bills. You can do it yourself using simple products from your local DIY store. You may be eligible for a Warm Front grant for heating or insulation improvements, call an advisor free on 0800 316 2805.
Visit www.nhs.uk for details of your local health services, including emergency services, out-of-hours, pharmacies, minor injuries units.
For health advice and to have your symptoms checked, phone NHS Direct 24-hours a day on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk