Proactively preparing for unnecessary mishaps by following these winter weather safety tips can help you and your older loved ones be better prepared for unexpected emergencies. Winter should be spent sipping cocoa by a cozy fire, not with a broken hip from a fall or a tragic home fire.
Slips and Falls
The odds of slipping and falling while walking outside increases during the winter because of ice and snow on walkways. To help prevent falls, make sure your shoes and boots have non-slip soles on them and that they fit snuggly. If you or a loved one uses a cane, make sure to replace the tips with new ones.
Hypothermia is a potentially dangerous condition when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyone can suffer from hypothermia if they do not properly protect themselves against ultra-cold winter temperatures. Wearing multiple layers of clothing and a warm hat is the best way to prevent hypothermia and illness.
Older people are at greater risk of suffering from hypothermia indoors because they produce less body heat. During winter power outages, an elderly person’s body temperature drops quickly, so dangerously low body temperatures happen faster. Help protect them by setting automatic thermostats at 65 degrees, especially at night, and make sure they wear layers of insulating fabrics.
During extremely low temperatures with wind chills, frostbite can occur faster than you think. According to the National Weather Service, a temperature of zero degrees with a 15 mph wind will create a wind chill of 19 degrees below. Frostbite will occur in less than half an hour at that point. So make sure to cover up any exposed skin with mittens, scarves and hats, or simply stay inside on extremely cold days.
Improperly vented chimneys can release dangerous carbon monoxide gases into the home, so have your chimney inspected each year. Leftover residue, called creosote, can also cause chimney fires, so have yours cleaned regularly. For portable heaters, only buy ones that have tip-over and overheat switches that turn off automatically. Never plug heaters into extension cords to prevent electrical fires.
Make sure to stock up on medications, diabetic supplies, oxygen tanks and other medical supplies as needed before winter weather strikes. The American Red Cross recommends having a seven-day supply of all medications. It is better to be over-prepared for an emergency rather than under-prepared and having to call emergency services for help.
FEMA recommends that everyone have an emergency supply kit at home that includes, at the minimum, a three-day supply of drinking water and nonperishable foods, as well as some other basic supplies. Putting together an emergency kit for an older loved one makes the perfect holiday gift that will keep them safe and give you peace of mind.
A funeral home is the last place you want to spend time in this winter, so stay safe and be smart. Preparing for winter emergencies can keep everyone happy, healthy and accident-free.
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