Here is some helpful advice for preventing common winter weather dangers.
- Avoid Slipping on Ice
Icy, snowy roads and footpaths make it easy to slip and fall. “Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for our older people, especially during the winter months. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications. Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.
- Dress for Warmth
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. Research shows more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65. So don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees — if it does get medical assistance immediately.
- Fight Wintertime Blues
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many older people have less contact with others during cold months. This can give them feelings of loneliness and isolation.To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on neighbours and older relatives as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference.
- Check your Car
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone. But it is especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get your car serviced before wintertime hits — or ask a family member to bring it to a garage for you. Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and wipers can make a big difference on winter roads.
- Prepare for Power Cuts
Winter storms can lead to power cuts. Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stock up with warm blankets and fuel for the fire. Longer power cuts can spoil the food in your fridge and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.
- Eat a Varied Diet
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits — especially Vitamin D deficiency — can be a problem. Dieticians recommend consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.
- Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using a fireplace; gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.
The most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to ask for help. If you need to clear your drive of snow and ice, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or neighbour. Arrange lifts to the shops and doctor’s appointments.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.