Four Winter Safety Tips For Seniors
It’s that time of year again. Driving conditions worsen with freezing ice and snow storms, and the cold weather makes our bodies more susceptible to catching a cold. Elderly adults are particularly at risk of injury or infections during this time of year. It’s important to reduce risk and stay in tip-top condition, so that people of all ages can fully enjoy this beautiful season.
Here’s how seniors can stay safe and healthy this winter:
1. Stay Warm and Cozy
As we age, our bodies naturally produce less body heat. This means that seniors are more susceptible to suffering from hypothermia. In fact, according to the CDC, over half of hypothermia-related deaths are of people over 65.
It’s important for the elderly and their caregivers to understand the signs of hypothermia – especially because the condition can present itself differently in older adults. For example, some seniors will shiver a lot, while others may not shiver or have obvious signs of dangerously low body heat levels. Look for cold skin and hands, pale skin, blueish lips and fingernails, confusion, fatigue, weakness and slow breathing. These can all signal hypothermia.
To prevent the risk of hypothermia, it’s important to stay indoors when the weather is particularly cool. If you, or your loved one, do need to go outside, make sure to bundle up with the right clothing. Try to avoid damp weather. Wet socks, gloves, hats and damp clothing can quickly chill the body. If you’re cold indoors, bundle up with warm blankets, and consider investing in a space heater. Make sure to keep the heater at least 2 feet away from anything that could potentially overheat and catch on fire. If you, or your loved one, feel chilled, electric heat blankets and warm baths can quickly warm up the body.
2. Prevent Falls And Slips
If you’re concerned about slipping or tripping in the home, you might want to take a look at this free eBook, which explains how you can easily safe-proof the home for seniors. When it snows or sleets, shovel and salt all main walkways. If you, or your loved one, use a cane, make sure that it has a rubber tip so that it won’t slip on wet surfaces. Wear warm boots with lots of tread. And, of course, walk carefully and slowly. It’s better to take your time when walking outdoors, than to rush and run the risk of falling on hard ice.
3. Get Prepared For Power Outages
Stormy winter weather can sometimes cause unexpected power outages. If a storm is forecasted, regardless of how many inches of snow they anticipate, make sure that you are prepared well in advance. Sometimes small storms can cause a lot of damage. You will need to stash flashlights and extra batteries in a place that is easy to find. Stock up on non-perishable foods and warm blankets. And, if there is a power outage, make sure to move around the home to keep the body warm.
If you are using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns, be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning risks. Never heat your home with a gas stove, and if you’re cooking with a kerosene stove, crack open a window nearby. Ask an inspector to take a look at your chimney and flues if you’re going to start a fire, and make sure that they are properly cleaned each year. Make sure that your smoke detectors have batteries and are functional.
But, what happens if you’re not at home when a storm hits? Driving conditions in Virginia can be a little dangerous during snowstorms. You could get stuck in traffic or get snowed in for a long time. It’s important to keep the following items in your car at all times:
- Booster Cables
- Cell Phone and Charger Cords For Emergencies
- Windshield Scraper
- Small Shovel
- Flashlights and Batteries
- Rock Salt
- Water and Dried Foods
- Warm Clothes, Socks and Blankets
- First Aid Kit
4. Keep Your Body And Mind Healthy
Once your surroundings are safe, you must to take care of your body and mind. Maintain a healthy diet with nutrient-rich food, stay on track with your medications and doctor’s visits, and nourish your mind by enjoying the activities that you love. It’s also important to prevent the holiday blues, because seasonal depression can impact the immune system’s ability to fight off bugs.
Winter is a beautiful time of year – especially in Central and Southwest Virginia when snow caps the Blue Ridge mountains. By keeping these tips in mind, you and your family can safely enjoy everything that this season has to offer!