The frigid winter months can be dangerous for individuals of any age, especially the elderly. Fears of hypothermia, dehydration as well as slips and falls, are several of the most prominent causes for concern. The first step to making a safer winter is to create a plan for your loved ones.
1. Ice & Snow
The risk of falling due to snow or ice is problematic for anyone but may be far more detrimental for the elderly. Even minor falls can cause injuries that could be fatal in some cases. Head injuries and broken bones are much harder to recover from as an individual grows older. To help prevent slips and falls, be sure to keep sidewalks and driveways clear of any ice or snow. Make sure to hire help for those who are unable to maintain their property. Even with proper care, some places may still be slick. Having shoes with good tread should also be used anytime when walking through the snow.
2. Cold & Flu Season
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, 90 percent of winter flu-related deaths in the United States occur in people 65 years and older. It’s recommended that anyone over the age of 6 months should receive the flu vaccine. With age, your body’s immune system becomes more delicate. Be sure to practice safe health habits like, frequently washing your hands and by avoiding those already infected with the flu.
3. Driving in Extreme Conditions
As with anyone, avoiding driving on roads in extreme conditions is the best option! If road travel is an absolute necessity, be sure to take every precaution possible. Make sure that your vehicle is up to date on services needed and is ready to take on the snow & ice. New tires are something that will help with even the slickest situations. In the case of an emergency, have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This kit should be supplied with a number of items;
- Portable Cell Phone Charger
If you’re going for an extended road trip, keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. If you are caught in a snowstorm and have to stay parked in your vehicle, be sure only to run the engine for 10-minute increments. If the exhaust becomes clogged with snow, this can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
4. Inadequate Clothing
If the outdoors are calling your name, be sure to dress for the weather. You want to be sure to dress in light layers instead of a single heavy item. Light layers allow sweat to draw away from the skin instead of trapping the heat inside. Be sure that the outermost layer is waterproof. Hats, mittens, and waterproof footwear should be worn at all times when going into colder temperatures. Even indoors, be sure to dress in layers for adjusting to changing temperatures in the home.
5. Power Outages
Extreme weather conditions can cause for down power lines which can take days to fix. If caught in this situations, be sure to have a disaster kit, much like a car kit. Include drinkable water, nonperishable food items, several days’ worth of medication, a flashlight and plenty of warm, accessible, clothing items. Always have a backup place to stay in case extreme weather conditions continue.
6. Additional Heating Devices
When the temperatures fall, people resort to almost anything to keep warm in their homes. In addition to the furnace, some individuals heat their home with other heating methods. Several of these can increase the chances of fire in the home. Be sure to take proper precautions when using any additional heating methods in your home. Fireplaces need to be cleaned, inspected and operated properly to prevent from fires moving outside of the designated area. If used improperly, space heaters are also a cause for alarm. Be sure to plug in directly into the wall instead of an extension cord. Wires to and from a space heater should regularly be checked. Placing a space heater on a flat ground is critical. If knocked over without a safety off switch, extreme temperatures will result in fire. If there is any cause for alarm, discontinue use immediately.
It is important to have plans in place in case of any extreme weather condition. UnityPoint at Home’s Home Medical Equipment stores offer a variety of home safety products to assist your loved ones.