Winter storms put people at a higher risk for many problems such as car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. With winter storms comes extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. These storms are can last anywhere from a few hours to multiple days and can take out the power, heat and communication services. All of this places older individuals at greater risk.
There are a number of preventative steps that you can take so that if you find yourself in the middle of a winter storm, it can make your life easier, and maybe even save your life. Installing things like storm windows or space heaters are simple things that you can do to create a safer environment in case a winter storm comes.
Cold winds and winter storms can lead to a number of health problems if proper measures are not taken. Hypothermia and frostbite are two of the many health risks that comes from cold weather. These problems can cause serious problems including loss of consciousness or amputation.
There are a number of ways to protect yourself and your home if a winter storm comes.
Storm windows can help reflect the heat back inside the house during winter and reduce the amount of heat that escapes. If you or a loved one lives in an old home, it may be a good idea to get storm windows installed. However, for newer homes you may need to replace the current ones or make sure that they are set up to work properly.
Space heaters are can help you stay warm if a power outage happens from a storm. However, it should be noted that they can be a health hazard if not you do not take the proper precautions. For example, if someone has a gas-powered heater or generator be sure that there is a carbon monoxide detector that is in the area. Fireplaces are a good alternative to an electric or gas-powered space heater, however, it is important to make sure that the fireplace and chimney are cleaned and won’t create a fire hazard. Even gas fireplaces need to be cleaned periodically.
Disaster kits are a good precautionary item to have in any situation, but tailoring one to fit your needs during a harsh winter storm is probably a good idea. Most kits include nonperishable food and water for multiple days, a can opener, medication, flashlights, radio, and first-aid. However, for dealing with cold weather there are some other things you need to be aware of. For example, being sure that you have access to warm clothing and blankets is important. Be sure to have extra wood available if you have a wood-burning fireplace. Don’t forget about your pets if you have them, make sure that you have the food, water, medications, and blankets that your pets will need.
Ice and Snow Removal
Icy walkways and roads can present a serious fall hazard. And, as falls are one of the leading injuries for older adults, it is important to be able to keep these areas clear. If you have a caregiver or someone that you can hire to take care of this it will significantly reduce the risk of injury. It should also be noted that if the problem is severe, it is best to stay off the roads if possible.
With cold weather and winter storms, there are a number of health risks that present themselves, especially for older adults who are, generally, more prone to these types of problems.
Hypothermia occurs when the the core body temperature drops below 95 degrees. The condition can cause shivering, weak pulse, loss of consciousness, and more. According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia because the body’s response to cold can be diminished as we age. Due to this, hypothermia can develop in older individuals after even relatively mild exposure to cold weather.
If you think that you may be experiencing hypothermia or at risk to get it, go to warmth and warm the center of your body first. Keep the body wrapped in warm blankets including the head and neck.
Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases of the issue can lead to amputation. To treat frostbite, the best thing that you can do is get to a warm area as soon as possible and immerse the affected are in warm, not hot water. It is important not to rub the frostbitten area or massage it at all as it can cause more damage.
For both hypothermia and frostbite, if the situation becomes severe the best thing you can do is contact a medical professional to help you figure out what to do.
With winter in full effect, cold weather and storms are inevitable in some parts of the country. Winter storms can cause many problems, and if not prepared for properly, they can lead to health problems. However, doing simple things like installing storm windows and clearing walkways of snow and ice can be the difference between peacefully waiting through the storm and going to the hospital.
Dealing with cold weather problems can be difficult if you are living alone. Living independently is something that is hard to give up, but if the situation is severe, it may be a health risk. At some point, it may be best to look into getting a caregiver or moving to an assisted living facility that can make life much easier. At Landmark Senior Living, we have dedicated staff to help our residents with any health issues they may be dealing with, we also have a number of social event and activities to make life at Landmark more enjoyable. If you are interested and would like more information about our independent living facilities, please reach out to our admissions staff today.