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Staying safe in cold weather

Cold temperatures can be harmful to your health, especially to people over 65, babies and children under five, people who are pregnant, anyone who has a disability or long-term health condition, people on a low income, and people with a mental health condition.

During the winter months, it’s important to keep your home warm.

We know the rising cost of living has made many people worried about paying their bills. If you’re worried about money and heating your home this winter, please contact our Tenants First team on 01226 787878 or complete the form below.

There’s help and support available during the cost of living crisis, including our warm and welcoming spaces.

Contact the Tenants First team Get help with the cost of living

Here are some practical hints and tips to keep yourself and others safe and well during extreme cold weather. You can also download the Keep Warm and Well leaflet here. 

Listen to the weather forecast and news

Know what weather conditions are expected in your local area and plan ahead as necessary.

Extreme cold spells can affect other services such as power and water supplies, and public transport.

Snow and ice create slippery surfaces, so take extra care when travelling or walking outside.

The Met Office’s Weather Ready campaign provides lots of useful information about getting ready for winter and the steps you can take to prepare yourself for severe weather.

View the Met Office Winter Ready page

Keep your home warm enough

A cold home can cause health concerns. Ideally you should heat your home to a temperature of at least 18 °C. This is particularly important if you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease. 

If you’re under the age of 65, active and wearing appropriate clothing, you may wish to keep your home at a comfortable temperature even if it’s slightly lower than 18°C.

  • Leave curtains open in the day to let the natural sunlight heat the room, then close your curtains when it’s dark to keep the heat in.
  • Try to cover up draughts under doors and at windows.
  • Use a timer for central heating. Set your heating to come on just before you get up and switch off after you've gone to bed. If it's very cold, set your heating to come on earlier and turn off later rather than turning the thermostat up.
  • If you can't heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room throughout the day and your bedroom just before you go to bed. 
  • Make sure your radiators aren’t blocked by curtains or furniture.
View the NHS 'Keep warm, keep well' page

Check in on others

Remember to check on friends, family, and neighbours, particularly people with young children or older people who are more at risk.

If you're worried about someone sleeping rough this winter, please report it through Streetlink, by emailing adviceservices@barnsley.gov.uk or ringing 01226 773870.

Report a concern about someone sleeping rough Find out more about help for rough sleepers in Barnsley – Barnsley Homeless Alliance

Plan ahead

  • Make sure to have a supply of food and medicines in the house.
  • Build up layers to stay warm with blankets and clothing.
  • Stay connected with friends, family, and neighbours.
  • If there’s been heavy snow, ice, or other dangerous weather conditions, only travel if it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Know what to do in the event of a power cut

Be prepared for a power cut

If all your power is off and you think there’s a power cut, you can check online with Northern Powergrid (the local network operator).

You can also call 105* no matter who provides your electricity. It’s a free number and they will put you through to your local network operator.

Be prepared for a power cut before it happens:

  • Keep a torch somewhere handy – it’s much safer than using candles
  • Get a battery-powered or wind-up radio (useful for keeping up to date with local news)
  • Keep a blanket and warm clothing handy
  • Stock your cupboard with food and drink that doesn’t require electricity to prepare it
  • Remember to keep your mobile phone and other devices charged with important contact details saved

Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Network Priority Services Register

Power cuts or an interruption to your gas supply can cause worry, especially if you or someone you care for is vulnerable. You could benefit from joining the free Priority Services Register if you, or someone you care for:

  • is medically dependent
  • has a chronic or serious illness or mental health care needs
  • has poor mobility or other disability
  • is elderly or with young children
  • has trouble communicating

They will give you extra support or advice in a power cut or interruption to your gas supply. To find out more about the service or to join, please visit the Northern Powergrid website here or the Northern Gas Network website here.

You Could Get Additional Support With Northern Powergrid's Free Priority Services Membership
Keep your home warm enough during winter months
Keep your home warm enough

Ideally this should be to a temperature of at least 18 °C during the winter.

Check on others, especially vulnerable people
Check in on others

Some people can feel the effects of the cold more than others.

Plan ahead for cold weather
Plan ahead

Be prepared for the cold weather before it arrives. Read our tips and advice for preparing your home and to know what to do in an emergency. 

Flooding advice and how to prepare

Flooding can happen at any time of year so it's important that you're always prepared. Find out if you're at risk of flooding.

You can visit the GOV.UK website for general advice about flooding or call the Environment Agency on 0345 988 118.

Flood warnings and keeping up to date with the latest information

Keep an eye on the Met Office website for weather warnings if heavy rain's expected, or sign up for flood warnings if you're in an area at risk.

You can see flood warnings for Barnsley on GOV.UK and stay up to date with the latest information from us on FacebookTwitter and in the alerts section of our website.

For travel disruptions visit the Travel South Yorkshire website, follow @TSYalerts on Twitter, or call Traveline on (01709) 515151 for more information.

Advice About Flooding And Flood Risks
Visit Barnsley Council's flooding page for more information and advice

Preparing your home for winter weather

When winter comes, we don’t want you to get caught out. There are things you can do to be prepared for extreme cold weather. Read through the actions below, and make sure you know how to report any repairs to us.

The ideal temperature for a bedroom is 18°C (64°F) and 21°C (70°F) for a living room. Check your thermostat or use a room thermometer to monitor the temperature and keep your bedroom windows shut during cold nights.

If you’re worried about keeping your home warm and managing to pay your bills this winter, help is available. Please contact our Tenants First team on 01226 787878 or complete the form below.

Contact the Tenants First team Get help with the cost of living

Be prepared - try these tips

It’s important that you give us access to your home when we call to do your annual gas service. This test helps keep your boiler efficient, find any small problems and fix them before they get worse, but most importantly, keeps you and your family safe.

Pre-check your heating for winter

We understand the importance of having a warm and comfortable home, especially when the weather turns cold. To make sure your heating works when you need it most, there’s a simple routine to follow.

Running your heating system for five minutes every month will check that all the working parts and the system is in good working order.

Heating troubleshooting

If you do find that your heating doesn’t come on, there are a few basic checks you can undertake before calling up for a repair:

  • Do you have credit on your meter and is your meter showing ON (if you pre-pay for your gas and electric)?
  • Is the programmer / time clock in the ‘on’ position telling the boiler to fire up?
  • Is the room thermostat turned up above the current room temperature so that the boiler knows to fire up?
  • If there is a pressure gauge on the front of the wall mounted boiler, does it give the correct reading of around 1- 1.5bar?
  • Is it cold outside? Is the condensate pipe frozen? Check for ice at the end of the black / white pipe. If there’s ice, pour warm water over it to melt and clear it.
  • Is your boiler displaying an error code? If it is, then please let us know what code is displaying when you report it. This will help our engineer to diagnose and possibly resolve the issue over the phone.

If you’ve tried all of the above, and your heating still isn’t working then call our Repairs Hotline on 01226 787878 to log an emergency repair.

Keep your prepayment meter topped up

If you’re on a prepayment meter, make sure your meter is topped up with payment, so you have power when you most need it. If the weather is really bad it may be hard to get out of the house to get your card topped up. Make sure you’ve claimed the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme.

Prevent frozen pipes

Freezing pipes are the main cause of bursts in bad weather. Follow these tips to save you unnecessary expense and distress:

  • Pipes and tanks in your loft should be insulated. Please tell us if the ones in your loft aren’t insulated.
  • Report any dripping taps, cracked or dislodged roof tiles, blocked or leaking gutters to us as soon as you notice a problem.
  • Leave your heating on low and switch it on regularly. During very cold periods it’s best to leave your heating on low or set it to come on 2-3 times per day. Set it to come on at 2am each night for about 2 hours.
  • In extreme weather, leave your loft hatch open slightly to allow heat to rise into the roof-space and help prevent pipes in your loft from freezing up.

Locate your stop tap and valves

Stop taps are often under the kitchen sink or where the main water pipe enters your home. Check yours now to make sure it works, and no water comes through your taps. If you can’t find it or it doesn’t work properly, let us know. Finding out now means that you’ll be able to turn your water off straight away if you do have a burst pipe in the future.

Label other valves in your home. This will help you know where they are so you can turn them off in an emergency.

If you get a leak

Turn off the water at the main stop tap, then turn on all your hot and cold water taps. This gets rid of all water in your pipes.

If the leak is on your central heating system, turn off at the main switch. If you have an immersion heater you’ll need to switch this off too, then follow the steps above. If you have a solid fuel boiler, allow the fire to die out. Once the system is cold, turn the cold water mains off at the stop tap and turn on hot water taps to help drain system.

Beware of bulging ceilings – if water has been leaking through the ceiling and it’s bulging, don’t enter the room as it may not be safe.

If water is leaking near electrics or appliances, switch your electric off at the mains fuse board, then turn off your water as above. If the fuse board is wet, don’t touch it.

Call our Repairs Hotline immediately on 01226 787878.

Repairs during cold weather

During severe cold weather, we often get more calls to our Repairs Hotline. Please only call 01226 787878 for emergency repairs.

Any non-urgent repairs can be made using our App on your Smartphone. If you haven't already downloaded it, use the links here for iPhone or here for Android.

During bad weather, please be aware:

There may be a longer wait on our Repairs Hotline 01226 787878.

It might take us longer to get to your repair. Please be patient and we’ll get to you as soon as we can. We may have lots of emergencies and if the roads are bad, we may not be with you as quickly as we usually are. We’ll get to all emergency repairs in 24 hours and make safe. We prioritise older and vulnerable customers.

When you’ve reported an emergency repair, please wait in for us. If you need to go out, leave a key with someone and leave a note to tell us this. The person will need to be nearby and be prepared to wait in while we do the repair.

We may need to cancel some prearranged repairs. If we do, we’ll contact you to let you know.

For safety reasons we can’t go up on a roof in high winds. We’ll attend and do what we can from the ground and protect your home from the inside.

Check for power cuts with Northern Powergrid before calling us:

Going away at winter

If you’re going away when it’s forecast to be low temperatures, you can take steps to protect your home from frozen pipes and leaks.

Turn your water off at the main stop tap.

Keep your central heating on a low setting or set to come on at 2am for two hours each night. This will minimise the risk of tanks and pipes bursting.

If you’re going away for more than two weeks and don’t want to leave the heating on, the system should be drained down before you go and filled up again when you return. We can do this for you, but you’ll have to pay a standard charge of £50. To arrange this, phone us on 01226 787878.

Make sure a friend or family have a key and that they check your home regularly.

Tell us you’re going away by phoning 01226 787878 and let us know who you’re leaving a key with. This is for if we need to access your home in an emergency such as flooding.

If you’re going away for a long time, let your insurance company know. They’ll be able to tell you if your policy is affected.

Other information and support during winter

Registered address:

10th floor, Gateway Plaza, off Sackville St, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2RD

Berneslai Homes Limited is a company controlled by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales, number 4548803