Bitter winds, blowing snow and frigid, single digit temperatures make their way across the country in winter threatening humans as well as livestock and plant life.
As we age we become less active and that can lead to a feeling of “always being cold”. In addition to that, the bitter temperatures and snow that are blanket the country also add to the feeling of being cold because when temperatures dip into the single digits and the wind chills are in the negative numbers, even the most well-insulated home may feel cold.
But, how do you make certain that your loved ones are safe, warm and cared for when the cold winds blow? The first thing you need to know is at which temperatures an individual can suffer injury.
When the temperatures drop to 15 degrees or lower, skin that is exposed can become frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia will quickly follow. Wearing a hat, mittens and covering all extremities is crucial to remaining safe from frost bite. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.
Hypothermia can set in whether you’re outdoors or in your home and the temperatures drop (this could be because of a power outage or an issue with the furnace). When your body temperature drops too low it can lead to cardiac arrest or unconsciousness or even the possibility of death.
Dress in layers. Encourage your loved ones to wear insulated or thermal clothing as a first layer then dress in a t-shirt, followed by a lightweight knit top and then a sweatshirt. Wear more than one pair of socks. Wear thermal clothing under your jeans so that you’re in more than one layer. Wear slippers with non-slip treads over socks.
When relaxing on the couch with a book or watching television, cover up with a blanket. There are also electric blankets on the market that are made for use on couches and this may provide an added layer of warmth and comfort.
Get up and move around. Even if you’re only going from one room to another, getting physical exercise will get your heart rate up, your blood pumping and help keep you warm.
Drink warm beverages; water with lemon or honey is a great way to warm up, and has a comforting affect, also.
Because many seniors are living on fixed income, increases to the utility bills can be something for which they are unprepared. As a result, they are tempted to dial down the thermostat to an unsafe temperature. If they don’t move around much they aren’t generating enough body heat, and having a thermostat turned down could result in hypothermia.
They may also be tempted to heat the house with the use of space heaters. These heaters, although in some cases are approved for indoor use it’s important to note that they account for more than 50,000 fires annually and lead to close to 200 deaths. January is the peak month for fires and death caused by the use of space heaters.
If your parents insist on using space heaters, they must be properly vented, not near any flammable items in the home and must never be run without supervision. They should always be used as a last resort.
By providing your loved ones a personal medical alert device from LifeFone, you can rest-assured that they have emergency help at the push of a button.
In the extreme cold, we recommend that you encourage your loved ones to stay home. Avoiding trips is the best way to risk not getting frost bite. However, ensure that their vehicle is properly maintained for winter driving. Check the battery, tires, windshield wiper fluid, and the heating/defrosting system and have any repairs made before the bitter, cold winter days are upon us.
Encouraging your loved ones to follow these steps will help you and your loved ones weather the cold winter days ahead.
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