Arctic Blast Means Different Safety Measures for Seniors

Posted by Kia Crawford on January 7th, 2014 in Education | No Comments

It seems like Atlanta is feeling more like Antarctica these days. The 2014 winter season has been off to a blistering start with much of the country enduring the coldest arctic blast in decades. With temperatures dipping to records lows and hovering in negative digits, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure we are safe and our homes are safe guarded. Many vulnerable populations would benefit greatly from special attention during tough weather conditions, particularly senior adults who may be living alone. While many of us know how to safe guard our homes and ourselves from the cold, the senior population may be unaware or simply unable to perform those recommended tips themselves. For those who have senior family members, its important that you assist them during difficult weather conditions. If you are a neighbor to an senior adult or simply in contact with the person regularly, its commendable if help them and ensure they understand how to safe guard from the cold. We want to make sure that our seniors in our Dogwood Forest communities are safe, but we are also concerned with well-being of seniors outside of our communities.

We’ve included a few tips to assist you in helping the seniors in your life through the winter months!

1. Make sure they are warm: Ensure the thermal temperature in their home is adequate for extremely cold temperatures. Seniors are more susceptible to hypothermia because their bodies don’t react to cold temperatures as quickly as young people, according to the SIU School of Medicine. Because hypothermia seriously impairs the brain, their balance, coordination and judgment could be impaired, so they may not realize they are in danger. Also, yellowish fingertips and confusion are some of the signs to look for to determine if they are in danger of going into hyperthermia.

But, the most important thing is making sure it doesn’t get this far. Make sure they have what is necessary to stay warm whether it be blankets or warmer clothing. If they don’t have a working heating system in their home, you might want to consider having them stay with you for a few days until the temperatures rise. Great caution should be taken with portable heaters. If there is any question concerning the senior’s cognitive state, space heaters are not recommended.

2. Check the home’s pipes: Ensure they have water moving through the pipes to prevent the pipes from busting. This can be done by simply allowing the facets to drip. Drain all outside water hoses and sprinkler lines, and disconnect them from faucets. Use insulated covers or other insulated material around backflow systems and outdoor faucets. Check all pipes in unheated areas like crawlspaces, garages and basements and ensure that drafts are not getting in this area. Close garage doors if pipes are located there and open all cabinets inside the home that have faucets like kitchens and bathrooms so warm air with circulate. (1)

3. Make sure they are stocked with food: There is no way of us knowing exactly what the weather will bring. After all, we don’t create it, we just prepare for it. Make sure they have enough food and water at home in case they are incapable of living their home due to snow or ice storms (which we are all too familiar with here in the Atlanta Metro).

4. Ask about rescheduling appointments if possible: If you don’t have to go out in the elements, you shouldn’t. During this time, its important that we don’t expose ourselves to treacherous road conditions or sub zero temperatures if we don’t have to. If a an appointment is not dire, try to reschedule it.

5. Ensure porches, driveways, and walkways are free of ice: Its important that we ensure there are not any indoor AND outdoor hazards for seniors. Although we would like for people to listen to every word we say and follow advice, people often don’t. So in case they decide to go outside to get the mail or walk outside to check the garden, make sure their isn’t any ice in their walking path. Keep it clear. It’s recommended that kitty litter or salt is placed on asphalt surfaces to prevent slipping.

6. Check on them: Simply checking in with them during the winter would be of tremendous help to them and ensures that they are safe during the harsh winter months.

Research obtained for this article: (1) “How to Prepare your Pipes from Freezing in Winter