Wednesday 28 November 2012

Preparing for the winter spoonie style

Part 1 –  Emergency Box and keeping warm

When I was a child living in deepest darkest Dartmoor, we were prepared for winter from candles to tinned spam.  We didn’t have the comforts of 2012.  Somewhere along the the line we have got used to all the mod cons and don’t prepare for winter emergencies in the same way we did then.

Living as a spoonie on a very low income concentrates the mind somewhat – forcecasters are predicting a very very bad winter and while we might scoff, considering we've had some extreme weather so far this year I'm not taking any chances.

If you live alone and have a limited network or contact with people then putting in place a "just in case" plan can give you a bit of peace of mind. Even if like me you have a family around you, the thought of a power cut or loss of a vital service could leave you very vulnerable indeed. 

ive tried to cover a few ideas:

Register with your water, gas and electricity suppliers as vulnerable and indeed of a service. This means if there is a power cut you go on their list as in need of essential service.  – for example NPower has a warm response service you can register with

Likewise find out if social services hold a list, make sure someone somewhere knows about you – particularly if you live alone and don’t get a service like social care. Even if you are not religious letting a local church know you exist will mean if there is deep snow, ice or what ever and you are left housebound someone will check on you.

Stock up on medication – speak to your GP about having an extra bit of any viral medications you need just in case – also is you aren’t already register with your local chemist for repeat prescriptions and delivery that way you know you wont run out.

Preparing for power cuts
It might never happen, but id rather be prepared just in case.
We have a winter essentials box (just a plastic box with a lid on it)
Inside are:

Candles & Matches
L.E..D battery lights (little stick on the wall lights - good for stairs)
Head torch - (looks daft but leaves your hands free)
Hand heat pads
Hot water bottle
Flask- small plastic tub of t-bags, uht milk, sugar)
List of emergency phone numbers
Mobile emergency charger
Emergency pack of medication
1st aid kit
biscuits – everyone needs biscuiuts
Ermergency choclate buttons
portable radio  with batteries
on top of that little lot
we have a small camp cooker and gaz (we live in an all electric house so if the powers off we still need hot food)

 Keeping warm

We would all love to have the heating turned up high but lets face it in austerity Britain living on benefits well below the poverty line isn’t exactly easy. Poor people generally spend far more of their income on energy bills that more well off simply because very often the house they live in is not exactly energy efficient.

A few ideas for staying warm and avoiding the annual nightmare of the winter fuel bill.

Playing the layers game, in my hiking days we were taught its far easier to stay warm and remove layers than it is to have one really thick layer on. Simply because air gets trapped in thin layers and keeps us warmer.

So get those thermal vests out, I have a whole collection of blankets, old fashioned quilts and woollies. My husband has banned me from buying anymore woollen clothing, but making sure you don’t get cold in the 1st place is the trick
If there is a bit of your body that gets cold easily make sure you layer them up – if my backside gets cold that’s it only the body heat of a hunky naked man will warm me up* :)

Follow the advice – the less you move the colder you get, even if like me that is bloody hard in the winter I do move regularly just gentle stretches, potter about slowly will push blood about your body, raise your temp and keep you warmer.
Sorry if this is teaching granny to suck eggs, but I see it time and time again people getting sicker and sicker because of the cold

Good hydration – not drinking enough can also encourage you to be cold, your body has to use more energy hydrating your cells to do this it takes blood away from your extremities. Drink enough fluid and your cells stay plump and your body doesn’t go into emergency mode8 (of course this could be hokum im no doctor but it makes sense in my world)

Are you on the best energy tarrif?
Have you looked to see if your entitled to help?

Contacting the energy trust for help and advice is a good place to start – they have information about grants and schemes to help

Check your on the right tariff
If you get income based benefits ESA, JSA or still on IB then you might qualify for your energy suppliers social tariff check it out or whether you can get a discount on your energy bill.

Frugal Ideas:

Trying to make sure the heat you do have stays inside – if your doors don’t fit and drafts whistle about one very simple idea is draft excluders. Below is the frugal way of making them.

Frugal draft excluder – no sewing required honest. Takes 2 – 3 minutes to make total cost £0.00

1 old pillow case or length of fabric, even an old pair of trousers will do
pair of tights
news paper
some ribbon or string

things you will need

scrunch up some news paper If don’t have newspaper then use old carrier bags – not into tight balls leave a big of give, stuff one leg of the tights with your newspaper balls so evenly packed. 

I used plastic bags

put the filled tube inside the pillow case, or square of fabric and tie off the end with the ribbon or bit of old string. 

the finished thing

If you’re a bit crafty you can sew the ends, and make them all jazzy

excluding some drafts

 It’s a very cheap way of doing it, if you have the synthetic filler from an old pillow that works just as well.  Actually its pretty much free as you just use stuff you have at home.

Hunt around charity shops and ebay for think winter curtains, you’d be surprised how much heat you loose from windows and your front door.

In part 2 we will look at frugal ideas for stocking up for food cupboard in case you cant get out and simple recipe ideas that will warm your cockles over the winter

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