The first snow has fallen in CT, and all New Englanders know there is much more on the way. The holidays, change of seasons, and caregiving duties all contribute to a lengthy “to do” list. If safety is not on this list, it should be. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind this winter, so that those who are living in your home, and those who are visiting, stay safe.
- Help prevent a fall by keeping stairs and entrance ways clear as well as treating icy sidewalks. The CDC reports that 3 million people over the age of 65 are treated in the ER each year for fall-related injuries. Go through your home and limit clutter by removing unnecessary area rugs and extension cords, and rearrange furniture to create a clear path. Use rubber-soled mats in the bathrooms and showers and use night lights in the hallways. Clear walkways and use salt where needed and make sure there are railings for support as you enter your home.
- Plan ahead for guests and family members who have limited mobility. Think about how you can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or canes with alternative entrance ways so your loved ones can be greeted effortlessly and comfortably. Also, have a designated space to store any mobility aids so your guests can enjoy the gathering without worry.
- Keep lights bright and designate a family member to help guests move from room to room. Low lighting, while festive, is not safe. Many seniors have trouble with their eyesight, and the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree may not be enough for them to navigate unfamiliar surroundings.
- Stay healthy. All family members should be sure to get their flu shot to mitigate the spread of influenza during the pandemic. If someone has recently been ill, is currently not feeling well or has a temperature, they should avoid visiting your home. Continue to practice proper hand hygiene, washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds after you have shared items, touched common hard surfaces, or left your home. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when this is not possible.
The CDC instructs proper hand washing technique as:
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end, twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
- Dress appropriately and make the necessary adjustments as you and your loved ones safely navigate the slippery conditions throughout the season:
- Wear insulated footwear with good treads; avoid plastic soles.
- Take shorter, slower steps.
- When driving, plan ahead to give yourself sufficient time and map out your route.
- Walk on clear walkways and sidewalks. Do not take shortcuts over snowy areas.
- Keep your hands and arms free for balance or protection.
- Be careful getting in and out of vehicles.
- Check batteries in all fire and carbon monoxide detectors. The fire department advises everyone to update their batteries at daylight savings each year. If you have forgotten to do this, take the time to do so now, recognizing the added fire hazards posed by Christmas trees, other live decorations and holiday candles.
Be safe and be healthy as you enjoy this special time together.