Keeping Seniors Safe During Winter Storms

February 12th, 2015 1 Comment

Senior home in winterSeniors Living Safely in Winter

As winter rages on in New Jersey and throughout the country, it’s especially important that older adults are prepared. Visiting Angels is recommending every family have a Senior Storm Kit handy in the event of a weather event.

“These Senior Storm Kits can be used to prepare for a variety of weather conditions, not just snow storms,” says Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels. “Research shows nearly a third of the senior population, age 65 and older, live alone. Whether seniors are in a direct path of a winter snow storm, it’s always good to be prepared for any type of inclement weather. Our caregivers do their best to battle inclement weather to take care of our seniors in their homes but these items are important for seniors to have on hand in case they find themselves without their typical cold weather care.”

A typical storm kit should include:

  • Bottled water (one gallon per day/person; 3 day supply minimum)
  • Flashlight: rechargeable or with extra batteries
  • Hand crank, solar or battery powered radio
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Warm socks, gloves, blanket
  • Non-perishable food, such as protein bars or nutritional drinks
  • Personal care items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, pre-moistened towellettes
  • Medications divided into a weekly pill container

Tips for keeping safe during winter weather:

Snow shoveling: inactive people over 55 are advised not to shovel snow due to the high exertion it places on the heart. Even just walking through heavy snow strains the heart, so stay inside and have a cup of cocoa while watching others clear the walk!

Dressing in Layers: To avoid the wind stealing body heat, dress in loose layers when going outside. The layers trap air and provide insulation for the body.

No electric blankets: Seniors’ bodies don’t always register temperatures properly, which could prompt them unknowingly to turn an electric blanket on too high. They may also be a fire hazard as well as a trip hazard due to the cord.

Check the thermostat: Most seniors like it warm in their home, but there are those who try to save money by keeping the thermostat low. The lowest it should be for safety is 65°F. Anything lower can bring a risk of hypothermia. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than half of all hypothermia-related deaths happen in people over age 65.

Check the detectors: Check both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors periodically by pressing on the test button. Keep fresh batteries on hand. Also, make sure there are enough in the home–every bedroom should have a smoke detector, and at least one on each level (including attic and basement). A carbon monoxide detector should be placed on each level, including the basement.

Visiting “Snow” Angels Are There for You!

Our senior living assistants, a.k.a. our Angel home care employees, can help your older loved ones when winter’s harsh weather comes calling. We provide safety supervision when walking through ice and snow covered walkways. We retrieve mail from an outdoor postal box. We sweep away light snow from a porch. We prepare warm meals on a cold day. We help pass the winter doldrums with friendly conversation.

It’s especially important to check on older people in your neighborhood during cold weather. Your friendly inquiry may be the highlight of their day!

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