Help keep others safe and make sure their home is winter ready!

(Published on 04/10/2018)

Cold weather can be a worry for older people. Help your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours to stay safe and warm this winter by taking at look at the 365alive Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue service top tips. And during cold weather, check and make sure they are okay.

Safe and Well Visits

The Safe and Well Visit is a totally free service offered by Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service.

We visit people in their home to see what we can do to make them safer. What does the visit cover? It combines a Home Safety Check to help reduce the risk of fire in their home, such as checking and fitting smoke alarms and helping them make a fire escape plan. During the visit, firefighters are able to provide advice and support to reduce any immediate risk from falls, fire, flood or power cuts. They can also provide advice on how they may be able to improve their health and wellbeing, and advice on crime prevention.  You can request a safe and well visit on the Oxfordshire County Council website.

Age UK Oxfordshire

Visit the Age UK Oxfordshire Website for great tips and advice.

Stay safe and warm

Older people are no more likely to have a fire than anyone else, they are however more likely to become a victim of a fire if one occurs.

  • Install smoke alarms for them on every floor of the home and make sure they are tested regularly.
  • Make sure they have an escape route and keep it clear.
  • Make sure all plug sockets are not overloaded.
  • If they smoke, make sure they use an ash tray.
  • Make sure the filter in the tumble dryer is cleaned regularly.
  • Ensure that portable heaters are kept away from curtains and furniture and are not used to dry clothes.
  • Make sure that electrical items are still safe to use by checking the Electrical Safety First website.
  • Make sure that the chimney is swept regularly.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a gas appliance and test it regularly.
  • Ensure that all candles are secured in a holder.
  • If they use an electric blanket, check it regularly and make sure it is safe to use.
  • If water pipes freeze they can burst. Make sure you know where the main stopcock is and check that it's easy to turn so you can turn it off.
  • Make sure they are claiming all the financial support they can to help with heating bills.  See the Winter Fuel Payment website and the Affordable Warmth Network.
  • Encourage them to dress in plenty of layers and make sure they have warm shoes or boots with non-slip soles.

Prepare for power outages

If the power goes off, or there's a problem with the water supply then utilities companies have a priority service for vulnerable people to ensure that supplies for those residents are dealt with first.

Many people don't like to ask for help, however if the water or electricity fails then it can be distressing, especially in the winter, and potentially dangerous if someone uses equipment such as a dialysis machine or ventilator.

The elderly, disabled or anyone who uses specialist medical equipment could benefit from joining water and electricity priority care registers:

  • Electricity: 0800 294 3259 or text phone 0800 316 5457
  • Water: 0800 009 3652 or text phone 0800 316 6899

Power failure?

Call the free number 105 to check what is happening.

No water?

Call Thames Water on 0800 980 8800 to find out what's happening.

Leave a message in a bottle

If they live alone, it's important that contact and medical details are easy to find in the event of an emergency.

To help out, the Emergency Planning Team is giving away a free green bottle for people to store important information, such as personal details, emergency contact details, doctors details, medications and allergies.

To get hold of a free bottle please call 01865 323765 or email