As the polar vortex descends on the US, many people are being confronted by cold weather they have never experienced before. All of this greatly impacts the safety and well-being of the elderly, especially when weather events strike unexpectedly or with speed. Here are some tips from the experts in aging well to help aging adults get ready for winter weather.
Before a Storm
- Stay informed and sign up for severe weather alerts through your local city or state resource
- Refill prescriptions and have an extra supply of other medical necessities
- Buy extra food, including non-perishables, and bottled water (and don’t forget pet food or supplies if needed)
- Keep vehicles filled with gas and have tires checked for safety
- Clear debris from downspouts and gutters
- Have trees inspected and remove any dead limbs
- Have evacuation routes planned with identified medical centers
- Identify an individual or company to shovel snow from driveways, stairs
- Make sure outside furnace vents are clear and carbon monoxide alarms are working
- Inspect outside plumbing, insulating any exposed pipes
- Know the locations of emergency warming stations in your city
Prepare for Power Outages
- If using oxygen, bi-pap, c-pap or other equipment, you will need a generator
- Purchase battery operated, plug-in lights that automatically turn on when the power goes out
- Make sure you have working flashlights within reach and extra batteries
- Keep cell phones charging so you have a full charge at power loss
Plan for Caregivers
- If you rely on caregivers, consider the following:
- Arrange for a live-in caregiver
- Build a relationship with neighbors that may be able to temporarily fill-in
- Plan temporary or respite stay with a nursing home, assisted living community, or hospice
- Keep areas around space heaters clear
- Use space heaters with automatic shut-off
- Gas stoves or ovens should never be used as a heating source
- Do not attempt to climb ladders
- Do not walk on frozen stairs, sidewalks, or driveways
For more winter weather tips and planning, visit the Winter Safety section of the National Weather Service.
With knowledge of local resources, An Aging Life Care Professional® can build an emergency weather plan for your aging loved one. Find one to consult at aginglifecare.org.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.