Severe Cold Winter Temperature and Older Adults
Check in on your older neighbors and loved ones during dangerous winter weather. Forecasters are predicting continued frigid temperatures and very cold wind chills across our region. Current temperatures are well below average for this time of year. The groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of frigid winter weather.
Older adults are at increased risk for complications from conditions including snow, ice, bitter cold and more. Factors like age-related changes and medication side effects can intensify the impact. Extremely cold temperatures equal severe weather.
Check on your neighbors
Before, during and after severe winter conditions, check in on older loved ones, friends and neighbors to ensure that they are okay and have the resources they need to remain safe and healthy.
- Do they need medical attention? Have they fallen? Are they staying warm enough? Are they taking their medicines as prescribed?
- Do they have safe food and water? Are they eating and drinking regularly
- Is the temperature in their home comfortable? Do they have safe means to heat the home if temperatures continue to fall?
- Whom will they call if they need help? Do they have access to a phone that will work without power or landline service?
Be aware that confusion, disorientation and irritability can be symptoms of conditions such as dehydration, stress and fatigue. If someone appears ill or is injured, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Each household should have an emergency kit that contains, at a minimum, a battery operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a loud whistle or bell, food you can open and prepare easily, water (one gallon per person per day), extra blankets and a first aid kit.
Older adults may have a few additional considerations:
- A backup supply of daily medicines and the means to store them properly.
- Ready access to medical equipment and assistive devices (e.g., canes, walkers, wheelchairs, lifts, oxygen tanks, etc.) as well as spare batteries and non-powered options.
- A safe place to go if it becomes unsafe to stay in your home (e.g., public shelter, friend’s or neighbor’s house) and a plan for getting there.
- Instructions for rescue personnel to help you relocate safely and quickly in an emergency.
Your preparation should also include a plan for safely keeping the temperature in your home comfortable. Use only space heaters that have been tested and certified to the latest safety standards, and do not leave a space heater unattended. Never use a kitchen stove or any other appliance not designed to heat your home for that purpose.
Wintry precipitation, such as snow and freezing rain, also increases the risk of a potentially life-changing fall for older adults. If you must go out in wintry conditions, wear boots or shoes that fit properly and have good traction. Bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see and move freely. Slow down and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. Try to walk only on surfaces that have been cleared and treated for ice and snow. Use handrails whenever possible. When in doubt, ask for help or assistance. Call us today at 41-321-4267 to ask how we can help keep you or a loved one safe this winter!