Cold Weather Safety Tips to Remember

That chill in the air can only mean one thing: Winter is almost here! As the temperature drops in the winter months, we all need to take precautions to stay safe and healthy.

Older adults, in particular, face a higher risk of injuries and health problems in the freezing weather, such as slips and falls, hypothermia, and of course, flu. Fortunately, older adults can steer clear of these cold-weather concerns by taking simple preventive steps.

Stay safe this winter with these cold-weather reminders for older adults:

Combat colds and the flu

While you can catch a cold at any time of the year, cold viruses tend to peak in the fall and winter months. Likewise, flu season runs from November through March.

For most, these viruses are merely an inconvenience, but for older adults, they can be highly dangerous. Older adults have weaker immune systems than when they were younger, making it difficult to fight airborne viruses. In some cases, the flu can turn into a more serious condition that requires hospitalisation, such as pneumonia.

To help prevent cold and flu viruses, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. You may also consider getting a flu vaccine if your doctor recommends it.

Use caution with fan heaters and electric blankets

Personal heat sources like fan heaters and electric blankets might seem like an efficient way to stay warm in the winter, but these devices come with their share of hazards.

Fan heaters can pose a fire risk, especially if they are accidentally left unattended. Likewise, electric blankets or heating pads may lead to burns, especially for older adults who might have trouble sensing when they become overheated.

Having a blanket readily available can help you stay warm while watching TV or relaxing.

Choose appropriate shoes

During the winter months, ice, slush, and snow can make it easy to slip and fall. Falls are the number one cause of injuries among older adults. To help prevent falls and slips in the winter, always wear appropriate footwear for the weather with non-slip soles.

Better still make sure the house is stocked up with essentials to reduce the need to go out when the weather is treacherous outside.

Bundle up to prevent hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when a person’s body temperature gets extremely low. It is particularly dangerous for older adults, who tend to lose body heat much faster than when they were young. We often think of hypothermia as only occurring after someone is outside in the cold weather, but the condition can even happen indoors if the temperature is too low.

To help prevent hypothermia, dress in layers and wear a hat, gloves, and scarf when going outdoors in cold or freezing weather. Avoid staying out in the cold for long periods of time.

Be sure the heat in your home is set to at least 68-70°F / 20/21°C and dress warmly on cold weather days, even if you’re staying indoors.

Peace of mind is priceless

These winter safety tips are important for anyone, but they are especially important for older adults living on their own.

If you’re concerned about your parent or loved one at home alone during the winter months, it might be time to suggest getting some extra help.

Residential care provides older adults with the reassurance of no longer having to worry about the daily upkeep that living alone requires. This gives them more time to make new friends and explore fun activities and hobbies. Best of all, you can rest assured knowing that help is always on hand as and when needed.