Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Keeping warm

So, I'm at home all day now, more or less every day. The thing I currently miss most about work is that it was warm. The weather has turned quite chilly - as one might reasonably expect, what with it being nearly December - and so it's a good time for those of us who maybe can't quite move around enough to keep ourselves warm to remind ourselves of the current advice in the form of the Keep Warm Keep Well campaign.

Okay, so as usual there's ample opportunity to snigger at the naivety of those who wrote it, for example the way they think that despite the level of poverty with which many elderly and disabled people live, we'll all have central heating with a thermostat that works. It's also very easy to get angry about the failings of the Warm Front grants.

Nevertheless there's a lot of good tips and advice in there but some of it does seem a bit... mutually exclusive. For instance:

"Fit draught-proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors."
"Remember to close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms you use most."

does seem to clash a bit with:
"If you use a fire or heater in your bedroom at night, always keep a window and door open."
"Keep your home well ventilated."

Am I meant to be sealing myself in, or trying to get a breeze coming through? I'm just not sure any more.

On balance I've opted for sealing myself in - it's warmer that way, and there are worse ways to go than carbon monoxide poisoning*, where from what I understand you feel drunk and then you fall asleep, which is a reasonable summary of my day to day life anyway.

It's a good tip about keeping the blinds or curtains closed, and it makes a noticeable difference. However when you're stuck alone in the house all day, even if you don't have depression or SAD, it's all too easy for your mood to plummet, so I'm making a point of spending at least a couple of hours sitting by the window with the blinds open trying to enjoy what natural light there is.

It's also a good tip about having plenty of hot drinks, although again, not without drawbacks. I know I'm not the only disabled person who, when having a painful day, doesn't drink as much as she should, in order to minimise the number of excruciating climbs up and down Mount Staircase just to pay a visit.

So I've formulated my own advice. Ready?

If you can, spend as much time as possible out of the house and in a place where someone else pays the heating bill.

This slightly contradicts the official advice about not going out unless absolutely necessary, depending on whether you read it as "don't leave the house" or merely "don't spend time hanging around outdoors". And of course for many of us it's impossible - or at the very least, the cost of taxis would outweigh the cost of properly heating our homes. But if it's in any way an option, my inexpert advice would be to do it. Spend an afternoon in the library, sitting by a window on the sunnier side of the building. Go to a shopping mall and sit under the skylight watching the world go by. If possible, find some volunteer work, then there's free tea and coffee too. Join in with a free course at the Community Centre even if it's a topic that doesn't raise your interest. See people, get sunlight, get your money's worth from your council tax, because there are few more frustrating ways of spending a day than cooped up indoors with the curtains closed, shivering.

* I am a very fortunate disabled person who lives in a centrally heated house with reasonably-sized rooms. I am not sealing myself into a tiny bedsit flat with a gas fire, so please do not worry - or at least, not about me...


erasmus (aka jiva) said...

only a couple of hints I can think of to add, use a flask so tea is a one stop for several cups. Get a heat pad that microwaves, if you have a microwave. I hand made with buckwheat and I love it. Finally I desperately need one and thats a daylight lamp. All items of course need money to buy them but all worthy investments.

Mary said...

Oh yes, the microwave wheat packs are fabulous. I'm not a sewing machine kind of gal, but I buy them from eBay which keeps it cheap - and many sellers will custom-make them as well. I have a set of pocket-sized handwarmer ones, two big blobby ones, and one which is sewn into sections so that you can drape it over yourself without all the wheat collecting at the ends.

Robert said...

I put an article up on Labour home a Labour party blog site, about the removal of DLA for the over 65's and the heating and how much it cost us. I had so much abuse from New Labour and some Labour people I had to remove it.

sadly after 44 years in the Labour party, I had to leave.

The Tories have stated they will protect DLA for the over 65's which is enough for me.

How sad it is to see a Labour party drop so low.