Winter Safety for Seniors

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and Winter is coming.  When you think about winter safety for your senior, you probably think of the Flu, Pneumonia, or Covid-19.  While those are serious issues, we may forget about safety at home during everyday activities.  We’ve come up with a few things to watch out for this winter season:

Falls

One of the most common winter dangers for seniors is slipping on ice. Ice can form on sidewalks, driveways, and even inside homes. To help prevent slips and falls, make sure your loved one wears proper footwear with good traction. And, if they must go outside, help them walk using a cane or other walking aid. You should also clear any ice and snow from their walkway and driveway.

A great tip for keeping walkways ice-free are ice melt products. These products are spread on the ground and then melt the ice when it comes in contact with it. Be sure to read the label carefully, as some products can damage concrete or other surfaces. For example, calcium chloride is safe for most surfaces but can be corrosive to metal.

Fires

Another winter hazard senior citizens should be aware of is fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), senior citizens aged 65 and older have a home fire death rate that is twice the national average. One way to prevent fires in the home is by having working smoke alarms on every level of the house and outside all sleeping areas. It’s also important to create and practice a home fire escape plan so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur.

Another way to prevent fires is to be careful when using space heaters or fireplaces. Make sure space heaters are turned off when leaving the room or going to bed. And, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the heater. When using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen big enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

Cold Temperatures

When the temperature outside drops, senior citizens are at risk for cold weather injuries like hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Symptoms include shivering, confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech. If you suspect someone has hypothermia, call 911 and move them to a warm location. Wrap them in a blanket and give them something warm to drink if they’re awake.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Other winter dangers include carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure your loved one has a carbon monoxide detector in their home. The detector should be placed near the sleeping area so it can wake them if there’s a problem.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 immediately and get to fresh air. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

There are some things senior citizens can do to prevent cold weather injuries:

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing and warm shoes with great traction
  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Check the weather forecast before going outside
  • Limit time outdoors
  • Stay hydrated
  • Monitor space heaters and fireplaces

The winter months can be dangerous for senior citizens. By taking some simple precautions, you can help keep your loved one safe all season long.

Our home care providers can help your senior stay safe this winter.

Contact us today for your free in-home care assessment and to see how we can help your family!