We midwesterners are a hardy bunch, but we tend to believe we can beat Old Man Winter every time. The problem is that as we age, our overconfidence may result in us receiving the knockout punch.
Aging poses particular issues when dealing with winter weather. The older we get, the more susceptible we are to hypothermia, frostbite, car accidents, and slipping during the reign of the white stuff. Osteoarthritis frequently worsens when it’s cold. Depression may increase if we don’t get enough sun and exercise.
To avoid dangerous situations, some tips on how to keep giving Old Man Winter the old one-two may be in order.
7 Winter Safety Tips
- Prepare for power outages. Have extra blankets, sleeping bags, warm winter coats and a fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace and/or portable space heaters or kerosene heaters (if permitted) for heat. Store food and drinking water. Keep a first-aid kit, flashlight, and battery-powered radio handy. A solar charger will keep your cell phone charged, even if you have no electricity.
- Avoid slipping on ice. You can buy non-slip footwear for under $20. Put non-slip tape on your exterior decks or stairs. Use ice-melting crystals and lay down grit or sand for traction. Make sure your handrails are sturdy.
- If you can avoid it, don’t shovel your own snow. When it’s cold outside, your heart has to work extra hard. Before the snow hits, hire a service or a neighborhood kid to do it on a regular basis. You’ll pay more for a heart attack than for shoveling.
- Watch for hypothermia. Gone are the days when you could spend all day outside with just a thin jacket. Wear a hat, gloves, warm boots, and a thick coat. Chemical hand warmers are good ideas, too. Sweating can lead to hypothermia, so don’t do anything that will make you sweat. And if you feel the slightest bit cold, go inside.
- Prepare your vehicle. If you haven’t done it by now, do it immediately! Have your vehicle serviced and make sure you have roadside assistance.
- Prepare your car winter survival kit and put it in the trunk. If you don’t already have an emergency kit with a flashlight, jumper cables, duct tape, flashers/flares, a tow strap, and some first-aid supplies, make one up now. For winter, add snow socks (for your tires), a spare cell phone charger, a wool blanket, energy drink and bars, windshield scraper, salt or kitty litter, windshield de-icer and a compact folding shovel.
- Watch for winter depression. The lack of sunlight, inability to travel, and reduction in activity can take a toll on your body and mind. Winter depression is NOT a mental illness; it is caused by your environment and body chemistry. To stave it off, get more sunlight, preferably by walking outside during sunny days. Watch your diet, get more exercise, socialize, or start a new project. If you don’t feel better in a couple of weeks, call your doctor.
Tired of winter-proofing your house every year? Sick of shoveling snow? Worried about ice dams and insulation? Pack up your troubles and move to a senior living community, and you will never have to worry about those things again.