Winter Safety Tips

winter safety

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and all the wonderful things that come along with winter itself. Staying as safe as possible during the holidays is key to being able to relax and fully enjoy the time. Here are a few tips to avoid some of the dangers that can be inherent with wintertime, especially those that affect us more as we get older.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful…

For many of us, the holidays go hand-in-hand with colder weather. And did you know that cold weather itself can cause problems for the elderly? According to the National Institute on Aging, there are many reasons why seniors can’t tolerate the cold as well as they once did, including losing body heat faster and not being as aware of it happening. Given that, it can be easy for seniors to experience hypothermia, or their body temperature dropping dangerously below 95 degrees. 

To avoid the potential of hypothermia, it’s important to bundle up when you go outside. Warm layers, sturdy shoes, a hat and scarf, and mittens for your hands can work wonders. But did you know that you can get hypothermia indoors if your home is not warm enough? Make sure you keep the heat at a level that will keep you comfortable and safe, which is usually at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit[1].

Get to Your Destination Safely

When you’re out and about during the holidays, you might be out in cold temperatures – and you might also encounter snow and ice that often comes with the winter months. Staying steady on your feet is incredibly important to avoid falls, so take some time to consider fall prevention strategies before venturing out onto icy surfaces.

·         Keep walkways clear of ice and snow.

·         Beware of black ice, which is simply ice that you can’t see – it is especially common in shaded or dark areas, where there isn’t much visibility anyway.

·         Wear footwear with good traction.

·         Take short steps over ice and snow and go slowly.

·         Hold onto what you can as you walk. That means always using the railings on stairs and holding onto your car door as you get in and out of the vehicle.

·         If you feel your balance starting to waver, just stop. Get your bearings and then move forward again – slowly.

Remember to be safe on the road, too. Always have a full tank of gas, keep your vehicle maintenance up to date, avoid back roads, and try to always travel with a companion. You should also have emergency supplies in your vehicle, such as a warm blanket, bottled water, non-perishable snacks, and other necessities. And of course, always wear your medical alert!

Beware the Seasonal Villains – COVID and Flu

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but unfortunately, it’s also the season for sniffles and sneezes. Now that the world has “opened back up” since COVID shut things down for a while, it can be easy to think that the worst of COVID is behind us – and perhaps it is. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still get the virus now, or that you can’t also get influenza, a mainstay of the winter season. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you can still catch either one.

Protecting yourself from COVID is extremely important for the elderly. Those over the age of 65 currently make up only about 16% of the United States population but account for a whopping 75% of all deaths from COVID. And up to 85% of all deaths from the flu occur in seniors aged 65 and older[2].

Here’s how to stay safe from these illnesses during the winter months:

·         Wash your hands frequently. And learn how to do it properly. Wash for at least 20 seconds each time.

·         Wear a mask. If your immune system is compromised or you are one of the 85% of seniors who has a chronic health condition[3], it’s a good idea to wear a well-fitted mask when in a crowded area. 

·         Maintain social distancing. Though it’s largely ignored these days, staying six feet away from others is a good way to avoid all sorts of illnesses – not just COVID or the flu, but even the common cold.

·         Be careful what you touch. One of the easiest ways to catch a cold or any other virus is by touching a surface on which the virus is waiting, and then touching your face. Did you know that we touch our faces an average of 50 times per hour[4]? That’s about once a minute! Protect yourself by being more aware of what you touch—doorknobs, railings, gas pumps, grocery carts or baskets—and wash your hands frequently or use sanitizer.

Being proactive about your health is the best way to protect it. To that end, make sure to get the vaccines your doctor recommends, including those for the flu, COVID, and pneumonia. If you’re feeling under the weather, stay home! But also stay in contact with your doctor to make sure that you’re doing all the right things to stay healthy if you do have an illness. And, as always, never hesitate to press your medical alert button. That’s what we’re here for!

Alert1 wishes you and all those you love the happiest, healthiest holiday season and a very prosperous New Year! Happy 2023!