CMO urges public to stay well this winter

Date published: 24 November 2017

The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Michael McBride has urged the public to stay well by being prepared for the cold winter weather.

Dr McBride advises: “With the Met Office warnings for icy conditions at the weekend, I would advise everyone, particularly older people, to beware of slipping or falling when out and about, even on simple tasks like bringing out the bin, as this increases the likelihood of fractures.

“Cold weather can affect everyone’s health and keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression. With a little preparation and by following some simple suggestions, we can help ourselves and those around us to stay healthy, safe and well this winter.”

Some simple, practical steps can be taken to stay well throughout the winter months:

  • wear warm clothes - layers are best; if outside in icy conditions, wear boots or shoes with suitable grips
  • keep sufficient stocks of food and medicines
  • check the weather forecast regularly
  • take care outdoors, especially if  roads and pavements are icy
  • eat a balanced diet, including at least one hot meal a day
  • heat all rooms used during the day - living room to around 18-21°C (65-70°F) and the rest of your house to at least 16°C (61°F)
  • service boilers and appliances annually by a registered engineer to protect from the dangers of carbon monoxide
  • maintain contact with trusted callers, friends and relatives should you need assistance; keep your mobile phone charged
  • One simple step you can take to keep well this winter is to get the flu vaccination. For those who are ‘at risk’, flu can be a very serious, even life-threatening illness, which could result in hospital admission. Getting vaccinated against flu helps protect you and others around you. I encourage those in ‘at risk’ groups to avail of the free flu vaccination.
  • If you can, check in on an elderly or vulnerable friend or neighbour, look out for them during the winter months to make sure they are safe, warm and well. Older people and those with long term illnesses are particularly susceptible to the cold.

The CMO further encourages the public to seek help from the range of services, particularly at this time when Emergency Departments remain busy. Dr McBride said: “The public can help alleviate demands on emergency departments by only attending if their condition is urgent.  It is important people use the full range of care options including local pharmacies, GP and Minor Injury Units for non-urgent conditions, particularly for coughs and colds.”

For further information on how to help yourself stay well this winter visit and

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

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