Living in an area that experiences all four seasons can be exciting and breathtaking, with views of fall foliage and spring flowers. However, the winter season is known to present new dangers, especially to older adults with mobility problems.
During the winter, individuals will experience cold temperatures and additional winter dangers, such as snow and ice. Unfortunately, this causes seniors and elderly individuals to become more susceptible to falls, injuries, and accidents.
The best way to prevent injuries during the winter is to take precautionary steps to keep you and your loved ones safe. Whether you have an elderly loved one who lives alone, or you take care of a senior with medical conditions, it’s vital to know how to properly take care of them during the winter months. Let’s take a look at 8 useful winter safety tips for seniors.
1. Check the Weather Before Going Out
It is important to always check the weather before going out on the town, especially if you plan on driving. During the winter season, the weather can be unpredictable and extreme. Because of this, you never know when the roads will be icy and dangerous to drive on. Fortunately, many weather apps and news stations continuously report the weather and driving conditions during the winter.
Additionally, if you are going out it is smart to keep extra pairs of gloves and socks, as well as jackets or blankets in case it gets colder than the weather reports predicted.
2. Avoid Frostbite
Unfortunately, elderly and senior individuals with heart conditions or other circulation problems are more susceptible to developing frostbite. Frostbite is characterized by discoloration of the skin (a white, ashy, or grayish-yellow color) as well as the skin feeling numb, hard, or waxy.
To avoid developing frostbite, you should always bundle up and wear layers. For example, during the winter season, individuals should wear a hat, scarf, mittens, or gloves, as well as water-resistant coats and shoes.
If frostbite occurs, you must place the affected body part in warm (never hot) water. If symptoms of frostbite continue to persist you must contact your doctor.
3. Prevent Hypothermia
Hyperthermia is a dangerous condition caused by prolonged exposure to extreme cold. This winter condition is especially dangerous to seniors, as it may be difficult to tell when an older adult’s body temperature is too low.
Warning signs of hypothermia include:
- Excessive shivering
- Drowsiness and exhaustion
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing
If you or a loved one are displaying signs of hypothermia, contact 911 immediately.
One of the most important winter safety tips for seniors includes how to prevent hypothermia. To explain, you should always stay indoors if it is too cold outside. However, if you must leave the house, make sure to wear layers of warm, water-resistant clothing.
4. Prevent Slips and Falls Outside
The winter season provides the perfect climate for a surge of fall-related injuries to occur which is why it’s also the perfect time for fall prevention. The freezing rain, ice, and snowstorms associated with winter make it super easy for anyone to slip and fall, especially seniors.
When your elderly loved one goes outside, they must wear non-slip shoes with snow- and ice-appropriate treading. They should also avoid stepping on areas that appear wet, slippery, icy, or snow-covered.
If your elderly loved one goes out by themselves, it is important to equip them with a senior alert system in case they fall outside in the cold and cannot get up. This will help to prevent them from developing frostbite or hypothermia.
5. Take Extra Precautions to Avoid Getting Sick
During the winter season, there is a lack of humidity in the atmosphere. This causes colds, cases of flu, and viruses to survive much longer, making them easily transmissible. Unfortunately, this is true for the COVID-19 virus as well as influenza, making this winter season especially dangerous for seniors and elderly populations.
To keep yourselves healthy and safe, seniors must take extra precautions to avoid getting sick during this winter. This includes wearing a mask, remaining socially distant, washing the hands often, and avoiding large gatherings.
6. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If your elderly loved ones use gas heaters, fireplaces, or lanterns to heat their homes during the winter, it is important to ensure that proper ventilation is being performed. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless and odorless gas that is released during the use of gas heaters and fireplaces.
This gas is toxic and deadly if you allow it to build up in your home without taking the proper precautions. With that being said, seniors must ensure they have working carbon monoxide detectors and proper ventilation within their home.
7. Keep Household Essentials Stocked
In case of a winter storm such as a blizzard, it’s important to keep food, water, medications, and other essentials stocked up during the winter season. Senior adults should always have a week’s worth of food, water, and medications handy in case they cannot leave the house for a few days.
8. Prepare for Power Outages
Because winter storms may approach, you should always prepare for power outages to occur. Preparing for a power outage includes having flashlights, batteries, a generator, non-perishable food items, and even an extra battery bank for your phone. By preparing for a power outage ahead of time, you or your elderly loved one will not have to rush to stores in potentially dangerous winter weather conditions.
Winter Safety for Seniors at Kelmedix
If you or a loved one live in a state that experiences harsh winters, it’s important to be prepared. By following the previously mentioned winter safety tips for seniors, you can rest assured that your elderly loved one will be safe during the wintertime. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to purchase winter safety items from our store, contact Kelmedix today!