A NEW and easy-to-use thermometer card, which reminds older people of the importance of keeping their homes warm, was launched this week with the help of Margaret Sneed, a pensioner from Abergavenny.

The specially designed card, developed jointly by Age Cymru and Western Power Distribution (WPD), warns older people when their homes become too cold. Research has shown that there is a direct link between excess winter deaths and cold homes.

Mrs Sneed said: “These thermometer cards are such a simple but effective way to remind older people to keep their homes warm. I would urge everyone to place a card in their main living room as a useful reminder of the indoor temperature.”

In line with the World Health Organisation, Age Cymru recommends indoor temperatures are maintained at 21C in living rooms, and 18C in bedrooms, for at least nine hours a day.

The thermometer card warns that cold homes can lead to a respiratory illness and in extreme cases heart attacks, stroke arthritis, rheumatism and even hypothermia amongst older people who may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as younger people.

Age Cymru’s health initiatives officer, Angharad Phillips, said: “Even though we are heading out of winter and into spring, the weather can still be totally unpredictable and deliver cold snaps so unexpectedly. I’m sure we can all remember the Arctic conditions we experienced last March.

"We also know that flu and other viruses are still circulating in Wales, so it’s important for older people to keep their homes warm at a safe and stable temperature to protect their health.”

The thermometer card also has a list of handy tips on how to prepare for a power cut. It encourages older people to have access to a telephone that will remain working during a power cut as many digital or cordless telephones may not work.

The card also urges older people to maintain a battery operated torch and radio so they can move around the home safely and keep in touch with news bulletins and updates.

WPD’s network service manager, Sean Sullivan, said: “We always tell our customers in advance of any planned power cuts that take place as a result of us undertaking essential maintenance or repairs to our network.

"However, now and then power cuts can happen due to circumstances beyond our control, such as severe weather, so it’s important to be prepared. The thermometer cards are an ideal way of reminding older people how best to prepare.”

To obtain a free thermometer card call 029 2043 1555. For more information about keeping safe and warm visit: www.agecymru.org.uk/spreadthewarmth