Staying warm crucial to beating winter ills

STACEY OLIVER
Last updated 12:00 21/06/2012
Cold flat
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ

RUGGED UP: From left, Johanna Poole, Remai Parker, Rebecca Noakes, Shelly Mellow and Jessica Perry sit in a cold Palmerston North flat and the heater is not working.

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Manawatu residents are being urged to keep their homes warm this winter to stave off illness.

About 2000 people admitted to Palmerston North Hospital last year were considered "avoidable hospitalisations" – visits that could have been avoided with the likes of better primary healthcare, healthier homes and a healthy diet.

Central Primary Health Organisation and Compass Health general manager Joe Howells said people in cold or damp houses were more susceptible to illness.

"The likelihood of things going wrong is much higher if they are living in cold or damp housing," he said."It's all a bit mixed, so you can't say that 2578 people admitted were due to adverse housing, but we know a good number will be."

Mr Howells said widespread illness in winter had implications for the community. "That's a result the community bears when houses aren't healthy. People taking time off work to look after sick relatives, that kind of thing."

From curling up in a sleeping bag to getting up in the early hours to refuel the fire – these are some of the methods people from the region are using to fend off the cold.

Third-year Massey University student Johanna Poole said she and her four flatmates frequently gathered in the kitchen because it was the warmest place in their flat.

"We go to the library because it is too cold to study in our bedrooms," Miss Poole said. They used blankets and wore extra layers of clothing to stay warm, as well as electric blankets and portable heaters.

Ursula McCormack said she used a wood fire as well as a heater to warm her home.

She also set an alarm for the early hours of the morning to put more wood on the fire.

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- Manawatu Standard

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