Unpredictable Winter Weather Calls for Extra Safety Vigilance

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This winter has been anything but normal, from the polar vortex dipping way past its usual borders to a sudden thaw immediately after. And while the warm respite in weather is welcome, it can have perilous consequences on the environment that means seniors need to take precautions when venturing outside.

Chicago River Drowning

Last week, temperatures in Chicago reached a frigid low of -16F, and spiked to the low 40s by yesterday. This drastic change means that most of the snow and ice has melted, with the excess running into sewage pipes and the Chicago River where water levels rose quite a bit. In spite of this, a 26-year-old man died after falling into the river, with a 21-year-old female (who also died) and a 23-year-old male going in after him to pull him out.

The man was retrieving a cell phone.

Police warn everybody- not just seniors and young adults- to stay away from river banks when thawing occurs and water levels rise. A sudden slip or fall could prove disastrous, and happen quickly and without warning.


In the Midwest, where severely cold winter weather usually stays away, the presence of freezing temperatures and snow has wreaked havoc in the state. Ten people were killed in motor vehicle accidents, with state police citing reasons of “challenging weather events” and “icy weather.”

Although temperatures have stabilized- for now- it’s always important for seniors to practice safe driving during the winter. Instead of trying to reach your destination as quickly as possible, focus on driving there as safely as possible. It’s tempting to take a half-hour off your commute, but the time saved can’t be appreciated in a coma.

New Jersey

The Garden State is seeing less-than-ideal weather conditions right now, with black ice-falls comprising the majority of nine emergency calls on Sunday, along with a fatal motor vehicle accident on Route 78 in Springfield. Because black ice can’t be seen until it’s often too late, seniors should take great care in making sure they’re wearing proper footwear and are walking cautiously.

On Monday, however, when the temperature reached the 50s, emergency calls were of a different nature: breathing issues and general sickness caused by the sudden spike in temperature.

And on Tuesday and Wednesday, when temperatures plunged back down to 0, emergency responders were faced with another small deluge as people fell and had difficulty breathing. One crossing guard was also struck by a moving vehicle.

As the winter weather spikes up and down without any sign of stability, seniors must take this into account and modify their behavior accordingly. It only takes one slip, trip or fall to result in a serious accident, and most of them are preventable.