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Preparing Your Loved One for Cold, Winter Weather

As 2014 is quickly coming to a close and a new year is on the horizon, your loved one, if ambulatory, will most likely continue to venture outside of his or her house to run errands and meet friends for lunch among other reasons.

Today, we want to give you a few tips to pass along to your loved one as he or she prepares to face the cold temperatures outside.

Here are three steps to keep in mind when preparing for the winter months.

Dress appropriately  Exposure to cold temperatures can lead to problems such as hypothermia and frostbite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people 65 and older account for more than half of hypothermia-related deaths.

Remind your loved one to dress in layers and wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, as well as a heavy coat and warm socks when heading outside. In extremely cold temperatures, encourage your elderly family member to stay inside; but if they must venture outdoors, he or she should cover all exposed skin and use a scarf to cover the mouth to protect the lungs.

Watch your step Just because the temperatures fall, that doesn’t mean that your loved one has to. Snow-covered roads and sidewalks can create slippery conditions. But there are a variety of ways to avoid slipping during the winter months. For instance, staying inside until the roads and sidewalks are cleared, as well as wearing sturdy shoes with good traction and non-skid soles are both strategies that can potentially help your elderly family member (and you!) avoid a winter fall. Additionally, encourage your loved one to take off his or her shoes as soon as they return indoors. Once the ice and snow on the shoes melts, this could create a slipping hazard.

Prepare for power outages  Bad winter storms can lead to power outages. If your loved one lives alone, make sure he or she is equipped with the proper necessities such as flashlights, a battery-powered radio and warm blankets. Additionally, if the power does go out, it’s important to wear several layers of clothing, a hat and gloves to stay warm. Furthermore, for longer power outages, be sure to have the pantry stocked with non-perishable items that can be eaten cold. And, if possible, encourage your loved one to stay with a friend or other family member whose home still has power.

Driving tips  If your loved one is still able to drive, make sure that his or her car is “winterized,” which means new winter tires are put on the car, the antifreeze is changed and the windshield wipers work properly. Additionally, the vehicle should include the following emergency items:

  • Cell phone
  • Extra sets of warm clothes
  • Blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel and rock salt
  • Flashlight

Though these are four helpful tips, always consult your loved one’s physician for additional information to ensure his or her safety during the cold, winter months.

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St. Barnabas Health System,
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St. Barnabas Health System
5850 Meridian Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044

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