Top Tips for Keeping You (and Your Whānau) Healthy This Winter

Winter is coming, and we all know what that means; colder temperatures, increased rain, more time spent inside than out and an increased risk of getting sick.

Protecting yourself early and preparing your environment before and during winter can help keep yourself and your whānau stay healthy, warm and well through the colder months.

Here are our top tips for your whānau’s winter wellness.  

Prepare and strengthen your immune system

Prevention is the easiest and best protection against winter bugs. Think about how you can boost your immunity before winter sets in:

Make sure your whānau are up to date with all immunisations – check with your GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 to find out if you and your whānau are fully protected against a whole range of illnesses like measles, mumps, pertussis, and whooping cough.

Many of these immunisations are free if you haven’t had them yet.

Be “sick smart” every day

We know what it takes to stop the spread of COVID-19, all of these steps are exactly the same when we’re trying to avoid catching other winter nasties.

  • Wear a mask. It's always a good idea when you’re trying to stay well to wear a mask when you are out in public or when you or a household member is sick.  
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Keep your distance from anyone who’s coughing, sneezing, or has other symptoms of a cold or virus.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. You need to rest and you don’t want to infect others with what you’ve got if you can help it.
  • Keep a social distance. Try and keep space between you and others as much as you can when you’re out and about
  • Wash your hands regularly. This is important before preparing food and eating. Also, you should always wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces. The flu virus can live on hard surfaces. Use a disinfectant cleaner to wipe down door knobs, telephones, toys, light switches, and other high-touch surfaces several times each day. If anyone is sick in your home, they should also quarantine themselves to a certain part of the house.

Use layers and rug up 

Pull-on your socks and jersey and warm hat – staying as warm as possible is a key way to support your body’s natural immunity and defend against sickness.

  • Layer up! Wearing multiple layers of clothing is actually more effective at keeping your body warm than just wearing one heavy layer of clothing
  • Be active indoors. It’s tempting just to rug up on the couch, but getting up and moving around regularly helps warm you up
  • Remember the wind chill! Even if the sun is out, the wind can be very cold. A wind proof layer when outside will help break the wind, and help keep you warm.

Make hot and healthy meals

Often in winter it can seem like our healthy eating options are limited, but there are lots of winter vegetables that are in season and taste great in soups and stews that can feed the whole family.

Think pumpkin, kumara, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, parsnips, bok choy, potato and more.

Healthy Recipes & Dinner Ideas - Heart Foundation

Warming  winter recipes  - Food to love

Keeping the whare warm and cozy

During winter we seek protection from the cold temperatures outside and we head inside. Keeping your home warm and dry inside helps leave all the winter nasties outside.  

Keep the heat in and the draughts out
  • Curtains are great gatekeepers for temperature change. Open them whenever there is sun that is coming through the windows for warmth, then close your curtains when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
  • Make sure your curtains cover the whole window and are thick enough to stop air getting through. Remember that you can also layer your window dressings too if you need some extra warmth.
  • If you need help, Curtain Bank – Habitat for Humanity New Zealand have free, double-layer curtains available for people with a Community Services Card. 
No more draughts. Cold air can get in through gaps around your exterior doors and windows.
  • Use draught stoppers along the bottom of your doors to stop cold air from getting in. And the good news is it doesn’t have to be fancy! You can simply fill up long socks or tights with rice and tie the ends off – just make sure there are no holes to start with.
  • Fill any gaps around your doors and windows to stop the heat going out and the cold coming in. Get some draught insulation tape from your local hardware store to fill the gaps around the top and sides of your doors and windows.

Check your heat source and insulation

Having an appropriate heat source and an insulated home is very important for keeping the heat in your home during winter, and to help, there are a few support options you can look into.  

  • If you are renting your landlord is responsible for your homes ceiling and underfloor insulation and that you have a room size appropriate source of heating. Click here to find more information about rental insulation and heating requirements 
  • If you own your home and it is not insulated, you may be eligible to get an insulation grant that can help cover 80% of the insulation costs or a heater grant to purchase a heater. 

    To find out more about the programme or to apply, visit Warmer Kiwi Homes programme | EECA 

  • Helping Aucklanders have healthy homes. Auckland’s free service Noho Āhuru – Healthy Homes help support families to have warmer, drier and healthier homes.

They can assist with insulation, ventilation, curtains, bedding, heating, smoke alarms and more. Contact them on 09 630 9799 or email for a referral form.

Find out more about how they can help by visiting Noho Āhuru - Healthy Homes • Healthpoint

Make your home dry

Here’s some simple ways to keep moisture out of the house

When it is cold outside and warm inside, you may start to see an increase of moisture on your windows inside your home. 

This can also be affected by other day to day activities like using your dryer or drying your clothes inside on a clothes rack.

While the odd day of condensation is fine, prolonged presence of moisture can lead to dampness. Dampness is caused by too much moisture being trapped in your house, and can lead to mould forming.

There are simple things that you can do to help reduce the amount of moisture in your home: 

  • Open your windows in bedrooms and living areas regularly when you can. Even if it’s cold, find time during the day when you can crack open a couple of windows in your home to help dry air circulate in from outside and push the moist air out.
  • Keep lids on pots when cooking. Steam from cooking is a major source of moisture in your home. Keep lids on when you’re cooking, and keep a window in the kitchen open or use an extractor fan if you have one.
  • Crack a window when you’re showering . Showers create a lot of steam, so leave a window open in the bathroom, and run an extractor fan if your bathroom has one.

Don’t let mould take hold

Mould is a type of fungus. It is bad for your health because it produces allergens (things that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and sometimes can have more harmful affects. 

Sometimes mould is obvious, but sometimes it can be hard to recognise. It often looks like fuzz, a stain, spots, a smudge or discolouration. It’s often black, green or white, but can come in a range of other colours, including grey, orange, pink and brown. It can also have a bad smell.

  • If you see mould on your walls and ceilings, get rid of it as soon as possible. Wipe it with a bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 1 litre of water), or use white vinegar (without any added water).
  • Check behind your furniture regularly during winter to make sure there’s no hidden mould growing on the walls.