Posted on Dec 03, 2014
On Wednesday, November 27, just a day before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Lehigh Valley was caught off guard by a fast-moving Nor’easter. This late-fall snowstorm dumped 3+ inches of heavy wet snow on Lehigh County; Northampton County was inundated with totals measuring up to 6.8 inches!
Winter storms are a way of life in the Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately for seniors, colder temperatures and hazardous travel conditions make this the most challenging time of year. It’s vitally important to help your loved ones stay warm, dry and safe, especially in the event of a prolonged winter storm when they may be home alone for several days:
CHECK THEIR HOME
Have their furnace or heating system serviced by a reputable professional – many local companies are offering special tune-up deals at this time of year. If they use a space heater to augment their heating system, make sure it’s in proper working order, and check or install a carbon monoxide detector to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Seal leaks around doors and windows – your local home improvement store has an array of easy-to-apply weather-stripping and caulking; cover old or drafty windows with plastic to minimize drafts
Eliminate slip-and-fall hazards both inside and outside their home – obstacles like scatter rugs inside the home are often the cause of slip-and-fall accidents; yard debris like leaves and branches on sidewalks and driveways can make walking difficult or dangerous, especially in inclement weather. If need be, hire a neighbor or service to make sure that walks and driveways are cleared or treated immediately following a snow or ice storm.
IF THEY ARE STILL DRIVING, CHECK THEIR CAR
Give their vehicle a winter checkup – have your local mechanic check the oil, tires, battery and radiator. If necessary, add antifreeze to withstand colder temperatures.
Check windshield wipers and wiper fluid – repair worn wiper blades and replace wiper fluid with a winter blend that won’t freeze.
MAKE PERSONAL SAFETY A PRIORITY
Prevent Hypothermia – encourage your loved one to dress in layers. Often, mediations they take may make them unaware that they are chilled. Encourage them to dress in layers, with a base layer close their skin to trap body heat. Warm socks, sweaters or thermal underwear can help as well. If they are going outside, encourage them to wear a hat as well as a warm coat to prevent body heat from escaping.
Winterize their bed – swap thinner cotton sheets for cozy flannel or fleece sheets, then add heat-trapping blankets such as fleece or down to keep them warm and toasty while they sleep.
Assemble an emergency kit – winter power-outages can be catastrophic, especially for seniors. In a moisture-proof container or tote, pack extra food (including food for pets), a battery-powered light source, water for several days, a first-aid kit, a list of phone numbers for utility providers in your area (tape this to the lid of your kit), any anything else you may need in case of emergency. If possible, install a back-up generator that will kick in if the power fails – this literally could be a lifesaver in the event of a lengthy power outage caused by heavy snow or ice.
Will Your Loved Ones Be Safe This Winter? Preparation Can Prevent Tragedy
Winter is here to stay. Make it a priority to check in with your elderly relatives or neighbors to see if they’re prepared for the blustery winter weather ahead. If you need resources or assistance, contact Senior Helpers of the Lehigh Valley at 888-787-8076.