We will touch more on the importance of preplanning in cases of bad weather for loved ones who might still be living on their own in future posts, but for now we have a single tip. If your loved one is physically or cognitively impaired, make a plan of people who can stay with him or her during times of bad weather.
Although most of our posts focus primarily on ways to care for your loved one during times of heightened excitement, these tips really are useful for the whole family. Forgetting about a lit flame or thermostat management are things that can slip anyone’s mind, so take note to ensure a safe holiday season!
Keep burning candles within sight and out of reach of smaller members of the family like children and pets. If for any reason you are leaving the residence, make sure to blow out the candles. The holidays are the most common time of year for house fires caused by forgotten candles. You might also consider placing a screen around the fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby materials, and also protect people from accidentally getting too close.
Keep Walkways Clear
We haven’t gotten any sort of inclement weather as of yet here in western North Carolina, but our winters are typically pretty substantial. Keeping walkways clear is important at everyone’s home, but especially oh walkways used primarily by an elderly loved one. A fall to us might mean a bruise hip or knee, but a fall to someone with older and feebler joints could result in a break, requiring months of physical therapy to regain strength. We recommend stocking up now on salt, cat litter or sand to keep sidewalks, steps and driveways as safe as possible. Risk of Hypothermia Seniors produce less body heat generally, making them more susceptible to hypothermia. Combined with conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s and severe arthritis or even some medications that can limit the body’s response to cold hypothermia poses a significant risk. Make sure that if you’re taking your loved one out on a cold day that you are especially cognizant of your personal response to the cold. Bundle him or her up with many layers to insulate and if you begin shivering, make the decision to go inside. Hypothermia can pose a risk inside as well, so make sure that your loved one’s thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature and that they are wearing enough clothes to stay sufficiently warm.
Home Heating Safety
Along the same vein of keeping a comfortable temperature, home heating can pose a risk to anyone during the holidays. It’s important to have your furnace inspected to ensure that it runs safely and effectively when heating your home. Check the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and purchase more if you don't have them on every floor. Place space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding or other obstacles, and most importantly keep a functional fire extinguisher on hand.
Additionally, if you are expecting a larger crowd at your house for the holidays, preemptively turn down the thermostat to prevent overheating in a stuffy room.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind around the holidays when the stress of preparations can push everything else out of your mind.