Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
Stay Safe This Winter
Winter weather can definitely be frightful! There are things you can do to be better prepared for winter weather situations. Making good choices is one way to stay safe, such as staying indoors when it is extremely cold and windy, or staying outside for just a short time if you must go out. When you do go outside, wearing layers, hats, gloves, scarves, coat, and boots helps prevent frost bite, which is damage to the body from the cold that can affect a person from the skin to the bone. Cheeks, ears, nose, fingers, chin, and toes are at the greatest risk of frost bite so be sure to cover up all areas of your body when heading outside. Here are some other tips for staying safe this winter:
- Be sure walkways are cleared, shoveled, salted, and free from ice. If not, find a different path.
- Purchase shoe grips and cane grips to help you stay steady on icy or snowy grounds.
- Re-purpose empty parmesan cheese shakers by filling them with sand or salt. Take one with you wherever you go and sprinkle the sand or salt whenever you feel you need it.
- Keep a coffee can or bucket filled with sand or salt in your car.
- If it is very cold, windy, snowing, or if the roads are icy, stay home.
- Plan ahead by stocking up on things you need, and running errands on good weather days.
- Make sure your car is ready for winter. When you have your oil changed, ask the mechanic to also check the anti-freeze, windshield wipers, and tires, and have them replaced if needed.
- Be sure to have a blanket, extra hat, gloves, and a sweatshirt in your car for an emergency, along with a shovel, flashlight, snow brush, and even a first-aid kit.
- Always take your cellphone with you in case of an emergency. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone that requires you to buy inexpensive “minute cards” or “airtime” periodically.
- When traveling, arrange to check in with someone when you have arrived at your destination. That person can also call to check on you if they have not heard from you.
At Home: Outside and Inside
- Make sure your walkways are cleared, sanded or salted, and properly lit.
- If you are shoveling, be mindful of your body. Shoveling snow can be hard work. Talk to your doctor to be sure that this is something that you can do safely. If you are not able to do this on your own, ask a neighbor, friend, local Boy Scout troop, etc. to assist you.
- Check the batteries on smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors. Make sure your fire extinguisher is in working condition. If you do not have one, consider purchasing one that can be used in a variety of fires.
- Always have a lantern, flashlight, plenty of blankets, non-perishable food, and bottled water on hand in the event of a power outage. Make arrangements ahead of time to stay with family or friends if there is an extended power outage.
- Have a list of emergency numbers by the phone for your use as well as a list of your emergency contacts posted somewhere visible, such as the refrigerator.
The winter months can be a beautiful time of year, but winter can also be dangerous if you are not taking the proper precautions to stay safe. Be sure to check in with family and friends on a regular schedule, make good decisions, bundle up when going out, and have a safe and happy winter!
For more information, visit healthinaging.org or contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.