On average there are about 25,000 winter deaths in England each year.

There is strong evidence that some of these deaths are related to cold temperatures as well as infectious diseases such as flu.

Flu is a highly infectious disease that can spread rapidly and the best way to protect yourself is to have a flu vaccination.

Here are other ways you can reduce the risk of catching and spreading flu.

• Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and encourage visitors to do the same.

• Throw away used tissues as soon as possible

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and use a hand sanitiser gel when you are out and about.

• Stock up on over the counter cough and cold remedies.

Keep your home warm.

If you have reduced mobility, are over 65 or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18c. It's a good idea to keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can but during the day make your living room slightly warmer.

There is also a cold weather payment if you receive certain benefits. This is paid when your local temperature is recorded or forecast to be an average of zero degrees, or below, over seven consecutive days. The payment is £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31.

Other ways to keep warm

Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm so you should try to make sure you have hot meals and drinks throughout the day and keep active if you can. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

Wear warm clothes inside and out. Put on lots of thin layers- clothes made from cotton, wool and fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat. Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when you are walking outside.

If possible stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems. Stock up on tinned and frozen foods so you have food available to eat at these times. Remember tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your five-a-day.

INFO: If you would like more advice about the flu vaccination, contact a member of staff at Loves Farm Pharmacy, in Kestler Way, Loves Farm, St Neots.