Wintertime Safety Suggestions
The United States has witnessed its first major snowstorm of the season. Unfortunately, we’re still a few weeks away from the official start of winter. Mother Nature may be unpredictable, but you don’t have to forecast the weather to prepare for it. Seniors in particular should have a plan in place to stay safe when the temperatures drop, as they are often more vulnerable to cold weather illnesses and injuries. So before another arctic blast or polar vortex hits your home, consider your wintertime safety needs.
For seniors, fall prevention is a year-round priority. Once winter arrives, though, it becomes all the more important to implement safeguards that will lessen your fall risk. Even if you live in a locale that never sees snow, overnight temperatures can still drop low enough to create a slick porch or sidewalk in the morning. To prevent falls, never leave the house without slip-proof footwear. You might also consider a cane or walker for better balance over icy surfaces. For added protection, coat your walkways with salt, sand or cat litter, and if you do get sleet or snow, ask a friend or family member to shovel it for you.
Winter weather can make it difficult to stay warm outside, so no matter the duration of your treks outdoors, wear appropriate attire. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that layers retain body heat better than just a thick coat, so dig out that thermal shirt, hat and scarf before leaving the house. When it comes to hypothermia, how you feel might not reflect how cold you actually are so take regular breaks from the cold as well. Also, keep in mind that if sweat or snow dampens your clothes, it can chill your body and drop your temperature. To prevent hypothermia, keep clothing dry at all times.
Heating costs can quickly rise during the winter, which may prompt some people to use alternate heat sources such as fireplaces, space heaters or even candles. However, each option can heighten the risk of fire. For this reason, be cautious with these appliances and devices. Never leave a fireplace, space heater or candlelit or on when you sleep or use a different room. Keep easily flammable items such as newspaper and holiday garland far from heat sources as well. Sources that emit carbon monoxide can trigger potentially fatal consequences, too, so invest in a CO detector and make sure that ample air flow runs throughout your house.