Winter is already upon us and those in the U.S. are experiencing one of the coldest winters ever.
If you have loved ones who live alone you may need to take the time to run a safety check on their housing to ensure they are safe and secure during winter storms.
Be sure their heat sources are safe. Change filters in heaters and if they are gas, have the local gas company check them out for safety. Be sure fireplace chimneys are clear and free of fire-causing build-ups. Replace old space heaters with newer, safer ones. Be sure your family member keeps their thermostat at 65 degrees or higher, even when the heating costs are high. Check to make sure there is adequate insulation in the home and that doors and windows are weatherproofed. Remove electric blankets from the home as they are a fire hazard.
Install a CO2 alarm. If there is already one in the home, be sure the batteries are working properly. CO2 is a silent killer and the gas can build up in homes not vented properly.
Plan for snow removal in the event of heavy snowfall. The elderly shouldn’t be doing the heavy work of shoveling snow. Hire a snowblower for walkways and driveways. Be sure there is adequate provision for removing snow from roofs.
Help your senior stock up on food ahead of time. Be sure there are plenty of non-perishables such as canned or dried foods in case power outages damage frozen and refrigerated items.
Have a safety kit in the home in case of power outages. The kit should include warm clothing and blankets, flashlights with fresh batteries, a battery-powered radio to keep in communication with the world and adequate food and water supplies.
If your senior drives, have a safety inspection done. Check oil, tires, wipers and be sure there is adequate antifreeze. A membership in an organization such as AAA will reduce worry about problems while on the road.
Finally, have a plan in place in which family members check in regularly with your senior. Phone calls made on a regular basis not only ensure safety, but give the senior something to look forward to. You may want to hire a professional caregiver to visit the home several times a week.
Even though winter has already begun, it’s not too late to visit your senior and be sure everything is in working order for the long winter months ahead.