Winter brings with it more than just a chill in the air; the season presents unique health risks for seniors. Staying warm and protected from cold weather hazards is vital for seniors to maintain their health and well-being through the coldest of months. Here are a few tips to help you survive the winter:
1. Go Through Your Closet
You’ll want to ensure that you have plenty of warm clothing to get you through the winter. Check items that may have been neglected for several months, like sweaters and jackets, to make sure they’re in good condition and free of moth holes or any other wear and tear that reduces their ability to keep you warm.
If you rotate your wardrobe seasonally, now is a great time to do that, too. Make sure your winter clothes are easily accessible for when you need them. Additionally, if you don’t already have a pair, consider investing in some all-weather boots with slip-resistant rubber soles; they’ll help keep you safer in icy conditions.
2. Have Your Chimney Cleaned
It might seem like just another detail, but neglecting to clear out your chimney can have serious consequences. Improperly maintained chimneys cause thousands of house fires every year due to the creosote that can build up inside them after repeated use. Fire danger aside, the creosote can also allow for buildup of toxic chemicals that can make you sick, or even an excess of carbon monoxide in your home, which can be deadly. It’s important to schedule an inspection every year to ensure that your chimney and fireplace are in safe working order.
3. Test Smoke Detectors
While it’s a good idea to have properly maintained smoke detectors any time of year, this becomes especially vital during the colder months, when the use of space heaters and other potential hazards, like holiday lights and fireplaces, increase. Go through your home and check all the smoke detectors to make sure they’re working by pressing the test button on them and waiting for them to screech. If you have balance or mobility issues, have a family member or neighbor climb up to check them for you. It’s a good idea to test your carbon monoxide detectors, too, if you have them.
4. Prepare for Bad Weather
Unless you live in a warmer climate or plan to head south for the winter, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with snow and ice at some point during the season. Make sure you’re prepared ahead of time by having shovels and salt at the ready; you don’t want to have to dig around to find them. Keep an ice scraper in your car just in case—you never know when you might need it.
It’s a good idea to be ready for power outages due to inclement weather, too. Put a kit together that contains things you’ll need if the power supply gets cut off, such as a flashlight, batteries, water, nonperishable food, and any medications you take. This will help you avoid having to fumble around for things you need in the dark, which can increase the risk of falls and injuries.
5. Stock Up On Pantry Items
Having nonperishable food on hand can be useful year-round, but especially in the wintertime. Whether you lose power in a storm or can’t leave the house for food due to heavy snow, you’ll benefit from having a selection of healthy canned goods and other nonperishables on hand. Canned beans are a great source of protein, as well as fish such as tuna, sardines and mackerel. Prunes contain lots of vitamin C and fiber, and you can get other essential vitamins and nutrients from canned vegetables and low-sodium soups. Make sure you’ve got a manual can opener and plenty of bottled water, too, just in case.
Tackle Your Winter Checklist
The main theme across all of these tips? Being prepared ahead of time, so you’re ready when an emergency occurs. Setting aside some time now to take care of a few extra things can ensure your warmth and safety all winter long.