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Heat and you

If you consider your body you will know that you react differently to the weather and especially temperature than friends and family around you, often feeling colder or warmer than others. That is because the human body is a heat machine, and while it is very good at losing heat, it is not quite so efficient at retaining it. The very young, fragile or elderly are more susceptible to this.

This is why cold weather affects the death rate. During the winter months, there are typically 25,000 more deaths in the UK than at other times in the year, directly attributed to low temperatures. The most serious risk, particularly for older people and vulnerable groups, is hypothermia. Even mildly cool indoor temperatures of 15.5°C can trigger hypothermia in older people, manifesting itself as confusion, slurred speech and loss of complex motor skills.

If the body core temperature drops below 34°C, the effects may be life threatening.

Of course, many older people and/or those in fuel poverty may be anxious about using heating to keep warm during the winter. For this reason, it is important to ensure entitlements such as winter fuel payments are claimed, insulation measures have been adopted, and that the heating system is as controllable and energy efficient as possible.