Welcome To 2024, Winter Safety Tips For Seniors

During the winter months, ice, snow, and cold temperatures can make life challenging for anyone. Slippery sidewalks and cold weather can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses.

Dress for the Weather - Wear loose layers of clothing. The air between the layers helps to keep you warm. Put on a hat and scarf. You lose a lot of body heat when your head and neck are uncovered. Wear a waterproof coat or jacket if it's snowy.

Change your clothes right away if they get damp or wet. In very cold temperatures make sure to cover all exposed skin and use a scarf to cover your mouth and nose.

Stay Hydrated - A variety of winter factors can cause moisture to leave our bodies quickly, leading to dehydration. Older adults are already at risk of dehydration because they naturally have less water in their bodies. They’re also more likely to have health conditions or take medicines that increase their risk of dehydration, like blood pressure medications. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day, especially if you are or have recently been ill with a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Protect Your Skin – As we age ours becomes thinner, drier, and more fragile. Winter weather can take a toll on aging skin, causing cracking and bleeding, leading to infection. In addition to staying hydrated, older adults need to use moisturizing cream regularly. It is especially effective after bathing when the skin is most absorbent.

Keep Warm Inside - Set your heat to at least 68–70°F. To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using. Close the vents and shut the doors in these rooms, and keep the basement door closed. Place a rolled towel in front of all doors to keep out drafts. Make sure your house isn't losing heat through windows. Keep your blinds and curtains closed. If you have gaps around the windows, try using weather stripping or caulk to keep the cold air out. Also be smart about space heaters. Inspect the power cord of your space heater for fraying and get rid of any damaged devices. Always keep space heaters away from flammable materials, such as cloth and paper. Another handy device that can keep us warm during the winter months are electric blankets, but they must be used with caution to avoid burns, electric shocks, and even fires. Any electric blankets that are more than a few years old may need to be replaced. The coils inside the fabric can get damaged over time, increasing the risk of accident or injury. If you are shopping for a new electric blanket, look for versions with an automatic shutoff feature. Also, be sure to use and store electric blankets responsibly. Individuals with poor circulation or nerve damage should exercise caution using heated blankets to avoid thermal burns.

Avoid Slips and Falls - Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma, and major lacerations. Make sure steps and walkways are clear before you walk. Be especially careful if you see wet pavements that could be iced over. Clear away snow and salt your walkways at home, or hire someone to do it. Wear boots with non-skid soles – this will prevent you from slipping. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth. Upon returning home, remove your shoes immediately because snow and ice often attach to your shoes’ soles, this can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Keep the car tuned up - “Winterize” your car before the bad weather hits! This means having the antifreeze, tires, and windshield wipers checked and changed if necessary. Remember your cell phone when you drive in bad weather, and always let someone know where you are going and when you should be expected back. Avoid driving on icy roads, and be especially careful driving on overpasses or bridges. Consider alternate routes, even if it means driving a longer distance, if the more direct route is less safe. Often, bigger roads are cleared of snow better than smaller roads. Stock your car with basic emergency supplies such as: First aid kit, blankets, extra warm clothes, booster cables, windshield scraper, a shovel, and bag of sand or cat litter (in case your wheels get stuck). Also, water, dried food, and a flashlight would be beneficial.


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