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Top 5 Safety Tips for Staying Safe in the Winter MonthsDecember 10th, 2020 by
With winter just around the corner, the time is now to concentrate on home safety and comfort. Preparing for wintertime is especially important as you or a loved one is aging at home because unpredictable weather and more time indoors can take its toll. These five suggestions for staying safe and cozy during winter can make a big difference in your quality of life.
Staying Warm Inside and Out
Seniors may not always be the best judges of how cold it can get. With your body’s reduced capacity to regulate temperature, you may not realize how cool it is inside your home or outside when you are away. While turning on the heat can increase your power bills, you should keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees to stop the indoor temps from dropping too low when it’s below freezing outside.
To some people, that recommendation may seem too low. If you or your loved one is usually cold, layer up when you get dressed. An extra pair of socks or a base layer under a shirt or sweater can insulate your body and prevent warmth from escaping. You may also want to have several throws or blankets on chairs or in other living spaces to stay warm and toasty when you watch television, read a book, or just relax quietly at home.
Using Fireplaces and Space Heaters
Are you tempted to rely on a glowing fireplace or space heater to warm up your house? While they can provide heat to make any room inviting, they also come with home safety concerns that you should not ignore.
Before you use your fireplace, you should have it cleaned and inspected. Any buildup of soot on gas logs or inside the chimney can present a hazard when you light a fire. Another major concern is the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur when there is not adequate circulation or the fireplace is poorly vented. A carbon monoxide detector is a potentially life-saving device that does not cost too much and is easy to install. Position it near your fireplace to monitor any leaks.
Space heaters may pose a greater fire risk, accounting for approximately 43 percent of all home heating blazes. Keep it at least three feet away from flammable items in your home, and do not forget to turn it off before you go to bed!
Preventing Falls With Improved Home Safety
Falls are a safety concern for seniors throughout the year, especially when aging in place. That risk can increase with snow and ice, which can make outdoor walkways and steps almost impossible to navigate. Here are some ways to stop falls before they happen:
- Clear sidewalks of wintry precipitation and do not allow it to accumulate
- Wear boots or waterproof shoes with nonskid soles
- Replace rubber tips on your cane or other assistive devices if they look worn
- Take your time when walking outside and use extra caution
- Check the weather report before leaving the house
- Carry a cell phone with you in case of emergency
Preparing for Storms
In the north, snowstorms may be a common occurrence, but in the south, ice is more of an occasional problem. Both regions can have power outages, and depending on how widespread, it could take days until you have lights on and heat flowing again. Have a plan of action to handle a longer period of no electricity, from staying with a family member or having a caregiver stay with you to assist with food preparation and staying warm, along with stocking up on these items:
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Blankets, hats, scarves, and gloves
- A supply of nonperishable foods that you can eat without heat preparation
- Extra over the counter and prescription medication
- Drinking water to stay hydrated
- Books, puzzles and games to keep you occupied
Staying in Touch
Winter can be a tough time for seniors who may feel lonely or isolated. Often, cold outside means staying warm inside, and you or your loved one may have less interaction with friends and family members this time of year.
Why not use smart technology to stay connected? Have an electrician or technology specialist visit your home to see how to incorporate the latest monitoring devices and smart outlets in your home so that you or a family member can communicate from a distance. Include safety tech updates in your aging in place modifications to ensure that you are never far away from help in a time of need.
Another simple method is just to reach out with a daily phone call or video chat. Checking in regularly, especially when the weather limits outings, can be essential to keeping you or your senior emotionally stable. You may even want to engage a caregiver or personal companion who can make daily home visits; frequent contact with another person may make all the difference in a senior’s sense of isolation.
Find Help When You Need It
You do not have to feel overwhelmed this winter; hiring professionals to tackle some of these tasks for winter home safety can be a real lifesaver. Whether you need someone to replace weather stripping around doors and windows, shovel snow from sidewalks, steps, and driveways, or replace batteries in smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, help is never far away.
Five Star Rated is your resource for services related to aging in place. We can connect you with contractors and home service professionals in your area to take care of your home needs during the winter, spring, summer, and fall. Visit us online to learn more about what we do.