Preparing for Winter
November 02, 2017
Submitted by Stacey Boyd, MSN, RN, Clinical Manager, Vital Wellness Home Health
As we enter November, it is time to talk about the dreaded word, winter! Let’s review a few of the necessary measures that older adults especially need to take to be prepared and safe this winter season. With the cold temperatures, ice, and snow soon to be upon us, here are some tips to use in the upcoming months:
With freezing temperatures and possibly even snow, the outdoor environment can be icy and slick, making it easier to slip and fall. Falls can cause major injuries, such as broken bones, head injuries, or skin lacerations. We can work to prevent these falls and injuries by wearing shoes that provide traction and shoes that have non-skid soles. Try to avoid going outside when icy or snowy conditions are present. If you must leave your home, bring someone with you to hold onto and, if prescribed, use assistive devices. Not only do you want to be careful outdoors, but it can be slick indoors as well; use socks with grips or non-slip slippers while walking at home and be careful that your floors are not wet. If you do have a fall, always notify your physician or seek medical attention.
It is important to stay warm when venturing outdoors as well as within your own home. You should always maintain indoor temperatures above 65 degrees and avoid being outdoors for long periods of time. Make sure that when you go outside, you dress appropriately for the weather by wearing layers, a coat, hat, gloves, and in extreme cold temperatures ensure all exposed skin is covered. If you are not dressed appropriately and are staying outdoors for long periods of time, this could lead to frostbite or even hypothermia, both are serious and would require medical attention.
Be prepared for emergencies
Sometimes in the winter, we are faced with blizzards, which could result in power outages. Without power, there is no heat and no electricity, thus it is imperative to keep flashlights accessible, as well as a stack of blankets to keep warm. In case the power is out for a long length of time, be sure to keep some non-perishable food items on hand. Furthermore, always maintain a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Make certain that you have your daily medications on hand — at least a week’s supply — when a storm is expected so you are not bothered with the possibility of running out of your medications.
Be mindful of overheating electric blankets and space heaters. If you are lighting candles, make sure that you are always home when these are lit. If you have a real Christmas tree in your home, be sure to water them regularly so that it will not dry out. Always have working fire alarms in the home and a working fire extinguisher readily available.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for assistance with snow removal and transportation during the winter months. Too many older adults try to shovel snow themselves, or drive in hazardous weather because they used to be able to do such things. Help is available!
Vital Wellness Home Health, located at 211 Landmark Drive in Normal, provides home healthcare and private duty services to adults throughout Central Illinois. Home healthcare services provided by their clinicians include skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medical social workers, and home health aids. Medication reminders, light housekeeping, and companionship are just a few services provided by our caregivers with their private duty services. Call them today at 309-829-7100 to learn more about Vital Wellness Home Health, or visit them online at www.vitalwellnessinc.com.
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