Baby, it's COLD Outside - 5 Tips to Keep Older Adults Warm
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), data consistently shows that cold weather kills more people then hot weather. This may be surprising to most Texans, however, during the Texas winter storm in February 2021, 246 people lost their lives, many to hypothermia.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that older adults are at an increased risk of hypothermia because their body’s response to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, medications and aging itself. Hypothermia can develop in older adults after even relatively mild exposure to cold weather.
As the temperature drops, be sure to check on your older loved ones, friends and neighbors. Be sure to read these tips and please share with others.
#1 CREATE A SAFE & WARM ENVIRONMENT
Make sure their home is warm and safe. Many seniors are on limited incomes and try to save money by not turning on their heat or keeping it turned low. To be safe, homes should be heated at least to 68°F to 70°F.
Winterize the home – make sure their heater is in working order. Check the home for drafty areas (windows & gaps under doors) and block drafts from coming in the house with rolled up towels and caulking.
Place smoke detectors and battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors in strategic places, especially in areas where near fireplaces or wood stoves.
Space heaters must be at least 3 feet away from anything that might catch fire, such as curtains, bedding, and furniture.
NEVER try to heat your home using a gas stove, charcoal grill, or other stoves not made for home heating.
#2 DRESS WARMLY
Layering is key! Thermal underwear, socks, undershirts, and hats – even while inside the home. Laying a blanket over their legs can also help keep them warm and snug.
When leaving the home, be sure to wear multiple layers, scarves, gloves, mittens, boots and weather-appropriate attire.
Scarves are particularly important to cover the mouth and protect lungs from the bitter cold.
Wear proper non-slip footwear to prevent falls, especially if the weather turns icy.
#3 STOCK UP ON ESSENTIALS
We know an arctic blast is on the way, use this time to stock up on essential items, such as food, medications, batteries, and bottled water.
Prepare for power outages (Texans learned this lesson in 2021). Make sure you have lots of blankets and warm clothes on hand, as well as candles and flashlights.
#4 CHECK IN REGULARLY
It is critical, that we are not only checking in on our family members, but also our older neighbors who may not have family, may be ill or unable to drive. Call or better yet, stop in for a visit to make sure their home is properly heated and they have warm clothes and food.
#5 KNOW THE SIGNS OF HYPOTHERMIA
Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops to a dangerous level. Warning signs include: cold skin that is pale or ashy, feeling very tired, confused, dizzy, weak, slowed breathing or heart rate, or slurred speech. If you suspect hypothermia, call 911 immediately.