As the colder weather approaches, it is important to be mindful of potential safety risks particular to this time of year. With a little planning and preparation, we can enjoy the winter months safely and in good health.
Preventing the spread of illness
- Colder weather keeps us inside so make sure to keep germs at bay with:
- Frequent handwashing
- Cleaning frequently touched surfaces often
- Limiting visits from those who are sick
- Remembering to cover coughs and sneezes and throw tissues in the trash
- Consult with your physician regarding which vaccinations are right for you.
- When inside public places or on public transportation, wearing a face mask to cover your mouth and nose may be beneficial. Avoid touching your face. Sanitize hands whenever possible and keep distance between yourself and others.
- Consider utilizing grocery delivery services and make other purchases by phone, catalog, or online.
Preventing falls and injury
- Clean up any wet spots on the floor from shoes or umbrellas.
- Sit on a sturdy chair or bench when putting on and taking off footwear and utilize adaptive equipment such as a long-handled shoehorn.
- Wear warm, comfortable, proper fitting footwear with non-skid soles while inside.
- Ask for assistance with carrying heavy or awkward items (such as boxes of decorations or gifts).
- Ensure you have a safety partner before climbing ladders or reaching for high places.
Stay warm and indoors during cold winter months.
- Check with local agencies and churches to find assistance with weather- proofing your home to save on heating costs and to keep the cold out.
- Check with your local utility to see about budget programs to help with heating costs.
- Keep the indoor temperature at 65 degrees or above.
- Be mindful of carbon monoxide leaks and buildup. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell. Carbon monoxide can build to unsafe levels indoors due to inadequate ventilation and poorly maintained heating sources such as fireplaces and those that use kerosene, natural gas, or other fuels. Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector and regularly inspecting heating devices can save lives.
- Only use approved heaters, never a gas stove, charcoal grill, or other stoves made for cooking-that are not approved for home heating.
- If using space heaters, make sure they are several feet away from anything that could catch fire such as curtains, bedding, and furniture.
- Ensure candles are put out prior to going to bed.
- If there is a fire or you suspect carbon monoxide build up, leave the house, and call 911.
Being outdoors during the cold winter months requires extra vigilance in order to prevent falls, injury, and dangerous conditions.
- Before grabbing the shovel, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure you are physically able to be working outside.
- Stay hydrated while shoveling snow or doing other outdoor work.
- Be mindful of hypothermia (when your body temperature drops to a dangerous level) and frostbite.
- If you must go out, mind the temperature and time of day, as temperatures often drop at night during the winter months.
- Dress in several thin layers of loose-fitting clothing.
- Change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
- Add winter essentials to your wardrobe including a winter coat, hat, gloves or mittens, scarf, socks, and boots with non-skid soles.
- Clear, or have someone clear steps and walkways of snow and ice.
- Keep steps and walkway areas well-lit and utilize safety rails.
- If using a standard cane, inspect the rubber tip and replace before it is worn smooth.
When driving during winter months it is important to be mindful of weather and road conditions.
- Be sure your vehicle is in good condition and has been winterized before bad weather hits.
- Keep a cell phone with you and let someone know your plans and when you should be expected to return.
- Avoid driving on icy roads when possible and be extra careful on bridges and overpasses. Take routes that are likely to be cleared of snow and ice.
- Wear your seatbelt.
By following safety tips and recommendations from your healthcare provider, the winter blues don’t have to get you down. Plan, prepare, and stay safe!