Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

As tough as the cold weather is on everyone, it’s particularly dangerous for senior citizens. Jim Miller, editor of Savvy Senior, a syndicated newspaper column, was invited on the "Today” show to share some steps seniors should take to stay safe as the mercury plunges.

Home heating safety

More home fires happen during the winter months than any other time of the year mainly due to home heating devices and people age 65 and older are three times more likely to die or be injured in a home fire as those younger. In addition, heating devices and household appliances that are fueled by gas, oil, kerosene or wood in a closed up house can also produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Some simple things seniors can do to protect themselves are:

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and check the batteries every month and change them at least once a year.

  • If you’re using a space heater remember that space heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the heater, and if you’re looking to by a new space heater get one that automatically shuts off if the heater falls over.

  • If you use a wood burning fire place make sure you have a glass front or screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs and have chimney flue pipe checked once a year.

  • Get an ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher for the home; learn how to use it and check it yearly to be sure is working.

Winter auto safety

To ensure winter time driving safety — if you live in a cold climate — have your vehicle serviced and winterized so it’s ready for winter driving and winter road conditions.

Some specific items to be checked are the:
Tires: check the tire air pressure and make sure your tires have sufficient tread.
Radiator: have the anti-freeze levels checked.
Belts: inspect the belts and hoses for cracks or leaks.
Oil: ask you mechanic about switching to a thinner grade of engine oil for better performance in colder temperatures.
Wipers: inspect the windshield wipers and wiper fluid to ensure better visibility.
Battery: make sure the battery is fully charged.

Preventing wintertime falls

A common problem among the elderly is broken hips, which happen more frequently in winter due wet and slippery conditions. To help prevent wintertime falls seniors should wear shoes with non-skid soles, stay only on sidewalks or areas that have been cleared of snow and ice, use handrails when available and avoid getting out after dark or in hazardous weather conditions.

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