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Public urged to play their part in ensuring older neighbours remain safe during cold spell

Published 28/12/2014


Age Action is urging communities to play their part to ensure that their older neighbours remain safe and well in their homes during the current cold spell of weather.

“Cold weather can kill and does kill in Ireland, making the winter a particularly challenging period for older people in particular” Age Action spokesman Gerry Scully said. “Snow and ice  make that challenge even greater as many older people may not be able to get out to buy food, fuel or medical supplies.”

With a number of parts of Ireland experiencing sub-zero temperatures and more icy conditions forecast for the coming days, the older people’s charity is urging everyone to play their part. “If there is an older person living in your neighbourhood we would encourage you to call or phone them to check if they need anything,” Mr Scully said.

Older people can also play a role in ensuring they remain well and warm in their homes by making themselves aware of practical steps they can take.  Maintaining a comfortable temperature in the rooms they are living in is essential at this time of year. It should be about 21 degrees Celsius in the room they are living in and 18 degrees in other rooms.  “If you are struggling to afford to heat your home, concentrate on heating your bedroom and the other rooms you live in,” Mr Scully said.

“The temperature in your home is crucial,” Mr Scully said. “Medical research has found that when temperatures fall below 16 degrees Celsius there is an increased risk of respiratory problems.  Where it drops below 12 degrees, the blood thickens and there is an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.”

“The cold can kill,” Mr Scully said. “Between 1,500 and 2,000 excess deaths occur during the winter in Ireland, compared to the summer.  Many of these are older people who die as a result of respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease. The cold weather, inadequate heating, low incomes and poorly insulated homes are contributory factors in some of these deaths.”

In order to stay well and warm this winter older people should also take the following steps:

  • Dress correctly – wear layers, rather than one thick layer of clothing.  Maybe wear a woollen or fleece hat in bed
  • Remain active – don’t stay sitting for long periods. Spread your chores throughout the day to ensure to keep moving around your home
  • Eat well – have at least one hot meal a day. Sip hot drinks regularly.  Keep a flask of hot drink by the bed, in case you wake up cold
  • Seal gaps around windows and doors
  • Remain in telephone contact with your family and friends, including other older people.



Age Action Ireland to benefit from Gas Networks Ireland Survey

Gas Networks Ireland is raising money for Age Action. If you've recently called their contact centre or had work done by them, you might receive a text from Gas Networks asking for your feedback. For every response received, they'll donate €2 to Age Action. There is no obligation to participate.

How It Works - If you've had contact with Gas Networks Ireland service centre or had work carried out by them, you may receive a message from Marie Lyster, their Customer Experience Manager. This message is an invitation to share your feedback. 

By providing feedback – only if you choose to – you'll be supporting Age Action Ireland. For every piece of feedback received, Gas Networks Ireland will donate €2 to our organisation. This contribution can support our efforts to improve the lives of older people in Ireland.You won't be asked for any bank details or money. Gas Networks Ireland is handling all the donations.

If you would rather not get these texts, just let them know and you won’t be included.  If you are over 65yrs old, you can contact them directly on their Age-Friendly service.  See their contact details here.

For Corporate Clients- Please note that Gas Networks donate €50 for each qualitative interview their commercial customers take part in.

Details on Gas networks customer surveys is available here.

For more information about our work and other ways to get involved with Age Action, please click here.