Winter may be a wonderland, but it also presents health and safety hazards. Here are some preventive measures you can take to keep yourself safe.
Prepare the House for Winter
Have your furnace serviced and change the filter before a cold snap hits.
Check the seals around windows and doors and place towels or blankets to stop drafts. Closing doors and shutting air vents in unoccupied rooms will concentrate heat into the rooms you use.
Having your gutters cleaned will prevent water from overflowing and icing on your driveway and walkway. Remove dead branches and trim trees away from your home to avoid damage during severe storms.
Protect Against Seasonal Illnesses
Seniors are at an increased risk for health complications brought on by a cold or the flu. Having good personal hygiene decreases your likelihood of contracting seasonal illnesses.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, especially if you’ve gone out in public.
- Frequently disinfect high-touch areas like countertops, doorknobs, light switches, phones and remote controls.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible
- Wear personal protective equipment like facemasks and gloves when out in public.
- Maintain a safe distance from large crowds.
- Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not accessible.
Reduce Fall Risks
If you struggle with balance and movement control, it’s important to lower your chance of tripping or falling.
- Avoid wearing baggy or long clothing that may get caught around your feet.
- Wear shoes or slippers with good traction.
- Clear walkways of cords, rugs and other tripping hazards.
- Install grab bars and rubber matting in your shower or bathtub.
- Take your time going up and down the stairs.
- Turn on lights to illuminate obstacles.
- Wear your glasses when walking.
- Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to shovel and salt your porch, walkways and driveway.
- Wear non-skid boots if you go outside.
- Wear sunglasses to reduce glare.
- Use handrails when ascending or descending steps.
Stock Your Winter Wardrobe
Your body becomes desensitized to temperature changes with age. Diabetes and cardiovascular conditions also affect your circulation, making it difficult for your body to stay warm.
Dressing properly for winter weather will protect you from hypothermia and frostbite. Wearing several light layers allows air to flow through your clothes, which helps regulate body heat. If you go outdoors, make sure to cover all exposed skin.
Have an Emergency Plan
Talk with your loved ones and neighbors about preparing for inclement weather and power outages. Having a plan will ensure you’re not left out in the cold when disaster strikes. It’s a good idea to always have a week’s worth of food in your home in case you can’t get to the store. Having a backup power source is a necessity as well.
Here are some items to include in an emergency kit:
- First aid supplies like bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, gauze, saline solution, aspirin, latex gloves and tweezers
- Extra batteries
- Hand warmers
- A can opener
- A battery-powered radio
- Matches or a lighter
- A blanket
Stay Active and Eat Well
Giving your body nutrients like calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and magnesium will boost your immune system and support cognitive function. Make sure you’re fueling your body will a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Daily strength and cardio exercises will strengthen your bones and muscles, helping you maintain your balance and endurance.