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Winter Safety and Health Tips

January 23, 2017

by Mary Staackmann

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter is here, and with all the beauty, the cold and ice can bring some health and safety concerns, particularly for older adults. Here are some tips to help keep you warm, safe, healthy, and free from injuries.

Take care when walking outside to avoid falls or slipping on ice

  1. If possible, stay inside until roads and walkways are clear of ice
  2. Wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles
  3. When going inside, make sure to wipe shoes as dry as possible to avoid slipping on interior surfaces
  4. Have your eyes checked and wear proper eye wear. Poor vision can make it harder to see hazards or icy patches when walking
  5. Pay attention and stay alert to any hazards as you are walking
  6. Keep your hands free and out of your pockets to help balance yourself or catch yourself if you fall
  7. If you use a cane, install a new rubber tip, or consider installing an ‘ice pick tip’ to prevent the cane from slipping

Dress for warmth to avoid hypothermia and/or frostbite

  1. Wear many layers of clothing, including a heavy coat and warm socks
  2. Cover exposed skin. Wear gloves/mittens, a scarf and a hat
  3. Wear warm, waterproof shoes or boots

Be safe while driving

  1. Winterize your car, making sure it is in good running condition, and have the antifreeze, tires, wipers, battery and oil checked regularly
  2. Have a fully charged mobile phone with you when you drive to phone for help in case of an emergency
  3. When possible, avoid driving on icy roads, and be especially careful when driving over bridges, which tend to ice over more quickly than roads
  4. Stock your car with emergency supplies, including first aid kit, blanket, extra clothes, booster cables, windshield scraper, flashlight and small shovel

Stock up to prepare for storms or power outages

  1. Prepare an emergency kit that contains flashlights, first aid kit, bottles of water, battery-powered radio, blankets, canned foods, candles and matches
  2. Stock up the pantry to keep food to last at least a couple of days
  3. Consider purchasing an emergency generator if you live in a climate that is particularly susceptible to winter storms and power outages—it can be a life saver

Be mindful of winter health risks

  1. Tis the season for winter bugs, colds and the flu. Older adults are especially at risk of contracting influenza, which is why the CDC and most doctors recommend older adults get a flu shot every year
  2. With shorter days and less sunlight, make sure to get plenty of vitamin D through your diet or supplements
  3. Eat a healthy diet and stay well hydrated

Most importantly, ask for help or assistance. North Shore Senior Center can provide more information and even referrals to help keep you healthy and safe during the winter season.