While the view of soft, white snowflakes flurrying to the ground is a beautiful sight you can only see in the wintertime, the freezing temperatures and debilitating storms that come along with those snowflakes can be much more problematic. Be ready for all that winter can bring by following our Winter Safety Guide!
Winter Item Safety Checklist
- A fully-stocked first aid kit
- Canned goods or food items you can easily prepare
- Bottled water
- A back-up supply of medications
- Flashlights (with extra batteries)
- A battery-operated radio
- Extra blankets
- A loud whistle or bell
Outdoor Safety Tips For Winter
Oh, the weather outside may be frightful, and the fire is certainly delightful, but don’t let the cold snow keep you indoors all winter long. The winter season can be a challenge for everyone, but by following these simple safety tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the winter wonderland right outside your home!
- If weather reports are calling for snowfall, cover walkways with rock salt to help melt the oncoming snow and ice. It’s also a good idea to keep a small bag of rock salt with you whenever you go outside in case you come across an icy path.
- Before going outside, do some light stretches to help your body warm up and to be more flexible and steady on your feet.
- Wear warm layers (coats, hat, scarf, gloves, etc.), but make sure that the clothing fits properly and isn’t too bulky or restricting.
- Wear boots with non-skid soles so you are less likely to slip and fall on snow and ice. Always use sidewalks and pathways that are already cleared of snow.
- Carefully shovel snow as soon as possible so you don’t have to worry about the snow turning into ice. Push the snow in front of you instead of lifting it, and be sure to take breaks while shoveling. Enlist the help of a family member or a friendly neighbor if you are unable to shovel the heavy snow.
- Beware of hypothermia – a condition in which the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees. Common warning signs of hypothermia are drowsiness, slurred speech, and disorientation. If you notice any of these signs, seek medical attention immediately.
- If you use a cane or walker, replace the rubber tip(s) for extra support and balance, and dry off the tip(s) after coming indoors.
In addition to these safety tips, remember to use your sense of judgment before going outside. If temperatures are below zero, even if it’s just due to the wind chill, it’s best to stay indoors to avoid exposure to the extreme cold.
Indoor Safety Tips For Winter
When enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace, it’s easy to forget that falls can just as easily happen in the home as they can in the slippery snow. Here are some indoor safety tips so you can enjoy the winter scenery from the comfort of your own home:
- Dress in warm layers – even indoors! Have plenty of blankets in each room, and wear socks with slippers or shoes that have rubber soles on the bottom to reduce your risk of falling. Remember that the temperature in your home should never be lower than 65 degrees.
- Place protective screens on fireplaces to keep sparks from flying out. Never leave the room when using the fireplace.
- Make sure space heaters are at least three feet away from anything that might burn, such as curtains, furniture, or bedding. An added tip: close off rooms you don’t need to help keep warm.
- If using a fireplace, gas heater, or lantern, install carbon monoxide detectors in rooms where fuels are burned to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to replace the batteries annually.
- Since the days are shorter in winter, add lighting to rooms and hallways so you can clearly see even when the sun doesn’t provide enough natural lighting.
- Social isolation and loneliness are actually quite common during the wintertime, especially if you do not feel comfortable venturing outside. Avoid social isolation by creating a buddy system with a family member or a nearby neighbor. Even a simple phone call can go a long way!
Power Outage Tips
Don't be left in the dark! Not only do winter storms bring slippery snow and ice, but they can also cause power outages. Stay safe in your home with these tips:
- To prevent accidental fires, use flashlights instead of candles for lighting.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed to preserve the food inside. Most food will remain cold for 4 hours in a refrigerator and for 48 hours in a freezer.
- Dress warmly – both inside and outside. It may seem silly, but wearing a hat indoors will help keep you warm in a power outage. Remember: burning charcoal indoors for heat or cooking purposes is dangerous.
- Don’t be afraid to leave your home. If the storm gets really bad, stay at a loved one or friend’s home. It’s best to make these arrangements before a storm hits.
How Seniors Can Stay Active In Winter
When the weather turns cold, we tend to nest into our homes and not poke our heads out until spring. Not only is this unhealthy for our bodies, but this self-imposed solitary confinement is also damaging to our mental health.
So how can you stay active throughout the brutal winter months? Here are some tips and ideas to keep you moving this winter:
- Move Around the House. Getting started can be hard, so start with a small goal. Get up and walk around the house at every commercial break or every new chapter in your book. Walk upstairs, visit every room in the house – even take a visit to the basement. Changing positions and breaking up your sedentary time will help build the desire to be more active.
- Visit Your Local Gym. Gyms are a great option for winter workouts as most offer machines, weights, and classes for those at all levels of physical fitness. Take a rejuvenating walk on the treadmill, a 10-minute climb on the stair stepper, or even a fun class. The gym is a fantastic and sunscreen-free exercise. Plus, the gym allows you to shake the winter blues by socializing with others.
- Fitness DVDs. You don’t have to go to the gym to work up a sweat! There are countless workout DVDs available for almost every type of workout – and you can use them from the comfort of your own home. You lose the chance to socialize with others, but you won’t have to fight the weather to get a great workout.
- Join a Group. From a bowling league to a ballroom dancing team, a Zumba Gold Fitness group, and more – find a group whose main activity is something physical. You will enjoy the friendships and the little extra push to help get you up and out during the wintertime.
- Go for a Swim. The wintertime doesn’t really inspire ideas of bathing suits and pools. However, swimming is an excellent, low-impact exercise, which is perfect for all levels of mobility. Most large gyms, or even your city’s recreational center, have an indoor pool. Consider joining a water aerobics class – the organized schedule will help give you the impetus to get out of the house, and you may even make some new friends!
A Service You Can Count On
During the winter, and year-round, Medical Guardian is a service you can always rely on. Whether you’re experiencing an emergency that requires EMT assistance or a situation that simply requires a helping hand, a connection to life-saving services is always just a button push away.
Don’t forget to frequently test your device at least once a month by pressing your help button and telling the emergency operator you are performing a test.