As the winter months roll in, with it comes the possibility of colder temperatures and severe weather. Before any serious conditions occur, it is important to be prepared. The aging population can be the most vulnerable when temperatures drop, at risk for hypothermia, which can be deadly.
There are ways to keep the cold out and stay safe and healthy. Below are tips to keep warm and ways we at LHC Group take precautions when caring for our patients.
Keep Warm Inside
According to the National Institute of Aging, living in a cold house, apartment, or other building can be a risk factor for hypothermia. In fact, hypothermia can happen to someone in a nursing home or group facility if the rooms are not warm enough. Family members or caregivers should pay attention to the inside temperature and how the patient is dressed.
The NIA recommends heating rooms to 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, closing all rooms that are not in use and blocking drafty areas. Dressing warmly with layers throughout the day and wearing warmer clothes to bed can help reduce the risk of hypothermia. Regular check-ins with family members and patients are other ways to help combat the effects of the cold.
Taking Precautions When Outside
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when spending time outside in the cold, no matter how short, it is important to prepare before doing so. The CDC recommends that individuals wear proper clothing, work slowly if doing chores, avoid or cover icy patches, and have a cell phone on hand.
Illness and Medication
Certain illnesses and medications can worsen the body, making it harder to stay warm, according to the NIA.
Below are illnesses that may make the frigid conditions harder to tolerate:
- Thyroid conditions can make it hard to keep a normal body temperature.
- Diabetes can keep blood from flowing normally to supply warmth.
- Parkinson’s disease and arthritis can make it hard to put on more clothes, use a blanket, or get out of the cold.
- Memory loss can cause a person to go outside without the right clothing.
Talking with a doctor or healthcare provider about medications and health risks that could lead to hypothermia can help mediate concerns for susceptible family members or patients.
Preparing for Emergencies
Weather-related emergencies can strike without sufficient warning. It is important to be prepared for what may arise throughout the year including severe winter weather.
The CDC recommends the following preparations for such instances:
- Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
- Ensure that a cell phone is charged.
- If traveling, be aware of current and forecast weather conditions.
- Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
- Battery-operated devices, such as a flashlight, a NOAA Weather Radio, and lamps.
- Extra batteries.
- First-aid kit/extra medicine.Baby items
- Cat litter or sand for icy walkways.
- Protect your family from carbon monoxide (CO).
- Keep grills, camp stoves, and generators out of the house, basement, and garage.
- Locate generators at least twenty feet from the house.
- Leave your home if the CO detector sounds and call 911.
Winter weather can be unpredictable but staying ahead of advisories can keep you safe and warm. Remember to check local weather reports regularly and locate your region’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for additional details and safety information.