Senior Safety During the Winter and Holiday Season
Depending on where you live in the United States, keeping your senior safe during the winter and holiday season can sometimes be a treacherous task! Here’s a quick list of tips to keep in mind as the mercury drops.
It’s all too easy to slip and fall on ice, a particularly dangerous situation as an icy surface is hard and unforgiving. Take precautions by wearing shoes or boots with non-skid soles, and replace worn tips on canes and walkers for extra traction. You can also add ice grippers to the bottoms of soles for an enhanced bite in ice and snow, but make sure you take them off when you get inside, as they can be extremely slippery on smooth surfaces. Also make sure to take off boots and shoes as soon as you get inside so that melted snow doesn’t make walking slippery.
Temperatures can fall quite rapidly, with hypothermia always a risk for seniors. Make sure frostbite isn’t a possibility by dressing warmly and in layers. By donning several garments instead of just one, you trap air between them, warming it and providing extra insulation. Layering also lets you take off or on one garment at a time, letting you adjust to temperatures better. But dressing warmly also means wearing a hat, scarf, gloves or mittens, and warm socks, protecting sensitive areas from the cold.
Winter driving is wholly different from “regular” driving, as you have to contend with cold air changing the structure of your tires, snow and ice to drive over, and reduced visibility. While it’s one thing to skimp on good shoes or a warm hat, you should never not winterize your car, as you’re traveling in a vehicle that moves fast and can be in an accident faster than you can blink. Spend the extra money on winter tires (they’re specially constructed for cold air and slipperier conditions), and always have an emergency kit in the trunk.
If an ice or lightning storm hits, power can go out pretty quickly. If that were to happen right now, do you have enough (boiled) fresh water, tinned foods, batteries, candles, flashlights, blankets, and a battery-powered radio to see you through 72 hours? Unless the answer is a resounding “yes”, it’s time to stock up right now, especially if you deal with health or medical issues that can make waiting out a power outage a bit tougher.
While you may not be in the right physical condition to shovel two feet of snow, you should have a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter on hand to at least make inroads into clearing the snow. But if you can manage shovelling the snow, get out there early and often, as frequent trips make it much easier to handle a heavy load.