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Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults

By Ashlee Williman | 12/13/2019

Winter can be a dangerous time for older adult due to icy conditions and slipping hazards

It’s that time of year again! The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are dropping and we’re beginning to brace ourselves for the taboo word: snow. While winter months bring many wonderful occasions, the weather can oftentimes pose some challenges. Preparing ahead of time for wintry weather can help keep us safe. Check out these tips for doing so:

  • Prepare an Emergency Safety Kit. We may want to consider stocking our residence with a few essentials in the event we’re unable to leave due to inclement weather. It is important to keep an adequate supply of medication on hand, in addition to the following items that The National Safety Council suggests:
    • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
    • Enough non-perishable food for at least three days
    • Hand-crank or battery-powered radio with extra batteries
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Tool kit with basic tools
    • Hand sanitizer and garbage bags for sanitation
  • Dress appropriately. When venturing outdoors, we should wear proper clothing to protect us from the elements. This can include a heavy winter coat, boots, gloves, base layers, hats and thermals. These items will help keep our body protected and reduce our risk of frostbite. Mayoclinic reports that, “Risk increases as air temperature falls below 5 °F (minus 15 °C), even with low wind speeds. In wind chills of minus 16.6 °F (minus 27 °C), frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.”
  • Clear walkways and driveways. According to Mayoclinic, older adults are more likely to fall in the winter than younger people, and are also at greater risk if they do experience a fall. To lessen our risk, we should make sure our walkways and driveways are as ice-free as possible. Many people use salt to remove ice from walkways, but kitty litter or sand can also be helpful with creating traction. In addition to these items, wearing a pair of traction cleats, such as Yaktrax, over your footwear can be beneficial for navigating icy walkways. We should also check with local agencies and municipalities regarding chore services that may assist with snow removal. 
  • Winterize our residence. There are many ways to prepare our residence for the winter. HomeAdvisor offers a comprehensive checklist. Here are a few ways to get started:
    • Examine doors and windows for gaps where warm air can escape
    • Caulk or apply weather-stripping around problem draft areas
    • Replace the filter in the furnace
    • Make sure chimneys and woodstoves are cleaned early in the season
    • Clean gutters and downspouts in mid-fall and double check them before winter
  • Equip vehicles with winter supplies. While traveling during winter months, Firestone Complete Auto Care recommends stocking our vehicles with a:
    • Portable Phone Charger/Battery
    • Ice Scraper
    • Shovel
    • Bag of Sand or Kitty Litter
    • Hazard Triangles or LED Flashers
    • Flashlight
    • Blankets & Extra Cold-Weather Clothes
    • Snacks & Water
    • First Aid Kit
    • Jumper Cables

Winter weather can often be unpredictable and arrive without warning, but by preparing in advance, we can be equipped for whatever the season may bring.

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