The winter chill is starting to settle in. Are you prepared? It’s important for people of all ages to take precautions and be prepared for the winter, but it’s even more important as we age. Older adults are at a higher risk of health problems and weather related injuries. Below are a few tips and precautions you can take to stay safe, as well as valuable resources to keep in mind.
Snow and ice do not make for ideal driving conditions. Always check the weather before you venture out. If you must leave, make sure your car is stocked with basic emergency supplies such as:
- A fully charged cellphone
- First aid kit
- Extra warm clothes
- Booster cables
- Windshield scraper
- Rock salt or a bag of sand/cat litter
- Water and dried food or canned food (don’t forget a can opener!)
If you are uncomfortable driving or no longer able to drive, LifeStream provides or coordinates transportation in Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Rush, Union and Wayne counties, and can provide information on transportation options in Madison County. Visit lifestreaminc.org/transportation or call 888-589-1121 to schedule a ride or get information on transportation options in your area.
Safe at Home
There’s no place like home, especially when it’s cold out! You’ll likely find yourself at home more often in the winter months. It’s important to keep in mind safety precautions and emergency supplies to make sure you are safe at home.
Your at-home emergency kit should include:
- Battery operated flashlights or solar powered lighting
- Battery operated radio
- Extra batteries
- Charged cellphone
- Blankets, sweatshirt, hat and gloves
- Extra water supply
- Shelf stable food like peanut butter, fruit cups, pudding, crackers, and snacks.
These items are especially important in the event of a power outage or extreme cold.
Another safety concern to keep in mind is carbon monoxide – a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell. It’s common for many of us to use a fireplace or other heating sources to stay warm in the winter. Unless fireplaces, wood and gas stoves and appliances are properly vented, cleaned and used, they can leak dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide. Make sure you take the necessary precautions to make sure your gas appliances and heating sources are well-maintained. You can also purchase carbon monoxide alarms from the store that will alert you if there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home.
Weather Related Illnesses & Injuries
Ensuring you have emergency supplies in your car and home, and taking the necessary precautions will help keep you safe from many weather related injuries or illnesses including hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Weather related injuries also occur when shoveling snow. If you choose to shovel, you must take the necessary precautions. When it’s cold outside, your heart works double time to keep you warm. Strenuous activities like shoveling snow may put too much strain on your heart, especially if you have heart disease. Shoveling can also be dangerous if you have problem with balance or frail and brittle bones. It’s always a good idea to speak with your physician before doing any strenuous activities. If you are unable to shovel, consider asking a family member or neighbor to help you.
We briefly mentioned that having an emergency kit in your home and car will help you fight hypothermia. Other precautions to take against hypothermia include stay indoors, keep indoor temperature at 65 degrees or warmer, stay dry, dress in layers, and wear essential winter wear like hats, gloves, winter coat, and boots.
Remember to check on your neighbors, friends, and family members, especially those that are elderly or homebound. The winter weather is dangerous, but by taking the necessary precautions you can stay safe and warm.