Vail Daily column: Take measures to keep safe this winter
Although winter can be lots of fun for many of us here in the Vail Valley, the fact is that winter weather does pose some serious health hazards for those who are not properly prepared. For example, did you know that home fires occur more often in winter than at any other time of the year? And that “people 65 and older are three times more likely to die or be injured in a home fire as those who are younger?” (Jim Miller, “Savvy Senior,” a syndicated news columnist, in his interview on the “Today” show).
FALLS ARE A CONCERN
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one-third of adults age 65 and older fall in the course of their daily activities during any given year. In 2012, 2.4 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 722,000 of these patients had to be hospitalized.
Clearly, winter can be hazardous time for seniors whose physical capabilities may not be what they once were.
TIPS TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS
What can seniors and their loved ones do to help prevent such injuries and accidents (fires and falls) from occurring? Below are several tips for helping to prevent some of the more obvious accidents from ever coming to fruition:
• Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home.
• Have fire extinguishers on hand in your home.
• Keep all driveways and sidewalks free from snow and ice.
• Make certain any melted snow in the house is wiped up immediately — puddles can be very slippery and cause falls.
• Increase lighting or change timers of lights to go on before it becomes dark.
• Use canes or walkers that have been fitted with proper grips for winter weather.
• Make certain the car is mechanically ready for winter and check tire tread wear.
• If utilizing space heaters, follow the directions to the letter. Particularly, make sure the space heater has ample room around it so that it will not ignite objects that are close to it or over heat.
• When going outdoors, be sure to dress properly for the weather: Wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Layer up as needed. Stay dry — don’t let clothing get too wet without changing into dry garments.
• When shoveling snow, moderation is the key. Don’t try to pick up too much snow at one time. Don’t go too fast when you are shoveling. Don’t go beyond your physical limits — the snow will still be there after you take a break.
• Be prepared for unexpected winter storms. Have plenty of food and water on hand in your home and keep water and snacks in your vehicle.
• Don’t forget to think of the pet(s). Have food, etc. available for them as well. Also, consider how walking your pet will be handled in the winter?
• Have emergency numbers readily available: 911, doctors, neighbors and family.
Preparing for potentially inclement weather takes just a little forethought. Regardless of your age, planning ahead will help minimize most of the negative ramifications associated with winter weather.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.