Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

For your safety:

  • Proper hand washing is key to prevent the spread of germs and illness, especially in the winter months.
  • In case of an emergency, consider installing a personal response or medical alert buttons if you live alone.
  • Avoid getting up too quickly when changing positions or when initially going out into the cold, to prevent lightheadedness or dizziness and possibly a loss of balance.
  • It is best to dress in several layers according to weather forecasts, keeping in mind the temperature and wind chills.  Be sure to keep your mouth and nose covered as well as keeping any bare skin covered, to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Be sure to wear appropriate non-skid footwear, such as boots, to prevent slipping or falls when outside in the winter weather.
  • Even though you can’t go outside to walk as much due to the weather conditions, be sure to get up and move about frequently to prevent joint stiffness and decreased circulation as well as prevent the risks of immobility.  Walk room to room for your exercise or at the local malls or community centers nearby. 
  • If you use a cane or walker, be sure to check their tips and replace them as needed to prevent slipping or falls.  You can also add an ice-pick tip to canes for winter use for added safety.
  • For winter driving, be sure you “winterize” your vehicle.  Check tires (all season or snow tires are best), windshield wipers and anti-freeze and radiator levels.  Try to complete your trips while it is still daylight.
  • Be sure to keep regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments.  Arrange for assistance with transportation if needed.
  • Investigate the possibility of having your prescriptions delivered by mail or arrange for the pharmacy to delivery them to limit travel in wintry weather.  Groceries may also be arranged for this way as well. 

For your home: 

  • As always, remove all throw rugs and keep walkways free of clutter.
  • Be sure to have lights within reach at the entrance of all rooms.  Nightlights or timer switches are great to have as well.
  • Keep your cordless phone with you or have phones within reach in your commonly used areas.
  • Keep frequently used items within easy reach, usually between hip and eye level is best.  Use a reacher as needed to reach objects on the floor or up high.
  • Install grab bars at entrance of homes if no railings, as well as in your bedroom.  Safety rails or raised toilet seats are also a good idea.
  • Keep walkways clear of snow and ice.  Consider hiring someone to help do these tasks for you.  But if you do plan to take care of it yourself, remember that you will tire quicker and easier in the cold weather.  Always keep your back straight, your knees bent, and throw the snow forward to avoid an injury.  Lift small amounts at a time and take frequent rest breaks.
  • Walk slowly and carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks, as you may not see the “black ice.”
  • Keep flashlights, extra batteries, drinking water and non-perishable foods easily accessible during winter months in case of a storm.
  • Keep your home environment warm but be sure to have proper ventilation when needed. 
  • With any electrical holiday decorations, be sure to unplug items or turn them off when not at home and at night. 
  • Keep a close eye on any burning candles and be sure to extinguish before leaving the house or going to sleep.

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