Senior Winter Safety Guide
Every year when the weather turns, seniors face a greater risk of everything from hypothermia to slips and falls to car accidents. This senior winter safety guide is an essential resource for anyone over 65 and caregivers for our senior population.
Part 1: 10 Tips to Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia
Getting older and feeling colder? There’s some actual science behind that. The older we get, the faster our bodies lose heat and the less likely we are to be aware of how cold we are. As a result, seniors are more at risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature gets under 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and can trigger health problems such as heart attack, kidney problems and liver damage. Many people don’t know that hypothermia can also happen indoors when it’s very cold. Here are the top 10 tips to avoid frostbite and hypothermia in the cold winter months.
Layer clothing: Wear breathable (cotton, wool) clothes, including thermal underwear, undershirt, track suits, sweaters, snowsuits, winter boots, hats, mittens, and scarves.
Cover exposed skin: Exposed skin can become frostbitten in as little as 30 seconds. Always cover exposed skin, especially when wind is a factor.
Keep moving: Try to stay mobile. Stand up and move around to allow circulation to better reach all body parts.
Blankets and portable seat/cushion: Sitting on cold pavement or concrete can increase the risk of hypothermia. Sitting on a blanket or portable seat will limit the risk.
Drink fluids: Dehydration can occur even when the temperature is below freezing. Hot chocolate is a great way to stay hydrated.
Avoid alcoholic beverages: Alcohol diminishes the body’s ability to feel the cold.
Look out for the following signs of frostbite and call 911 if you are experiencing any of these: ale grey, waxy textured skin, numbness, and localized pain, swelling and blistering, and signs of hypothermia such as confusion, lethargy, weakness, apathy, or pale skin colour.