It happened. Winter has arrived. Looking outside we see the fresh new snowfall. It is a beautiful wonderland, but there are risks involved. On average, 1,200 people a year die as a result of shoveling snow. Add back injuries, shoulder dislocation and heart attacks, and snow shoveling is one of the most dangerous activities senior citizens can attempt. For tips to avoid snow shoveling hazards: Talk to your aging parents about shoveling snow safely go to this link.
Leaving the house in extreme weather may also be necessary for seniors. A checklist to keep seniors safe:
1. Bring a cane or walking aid if necessary.
2. Remember any medications you may need for the next 24 hours.
3. Bring enough cash for bus or taxi rides.
4. Wear anti-skid shoes and boots with the laces properly tied.
5. Tell someone where you are, expect to arrive and return.
6. Pack water and a snack. If there is a delay, it’s important to stay hydrated and energized.
7. Make sure you are wearing several layers and include a warm hat, gloves/mittens, and a coat. 8. Know your transportation options. Don’t drive unless it’s an emergency.
9. Only walk on clear and dry sidewalks and use available handrails.
10. Charge your cell phone and keep a list of emergency contacts.
Be a good neighbor and check on seniors in your community. Perhaps offer transportation, or doing errands for them. Check on them during a storm.
Did you know that ice must me at least 10 cm thick to walk on, 20 cm thick for skating , and a minimum of 25 cm for snowmobiles? This link has further information. And always wear an approved helmet when participating in activities such as skiing, sledding, snowboarding, skating or playing hockey. For more information use this link.
Be sensible with the temperature. Sometimes it is too cold for anyone to be outside. Watch your children and keep them away from snowplows and snowblowers. Help children choose play areas with a warm shelter nearby. Teach them not to build a snow fort in a snowbank near the road. Children should be supervised when playing outside. Establish a buddy system with one or more of their friends. More information can be found at www.safekidscanada.ca or at this link.
Don't forget to be sun safe. Even in the winter, you can still get a sunburn. Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF # 15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection. Further information can be found here.
Drink up, and make a toast to winter! When you “see your breath” in cold weather, you’re actually seeing water vapour escaping your body. The dryer and colder the air, the more water you will lose through breathing and sweating. Start your activity well-hydrated and continue to sip as you walk, ski, snowshoe, or skate. Thirst is not actually a good indicator of your body’s need for water as it is a delayed response. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty! Remember that drinks like coffee and non-herbal tea are diuretics and can actually contribute to your fluid loss. Try carrying a thermos with warm liquid, like herbal tea or apple cider.
Keep your animals safe this winter. Keep antifreeze out of reach and clean up any spills. Avoid use of salt and chemical melting products. Before starting your vehicle, give the hood a tap and check between tires. Keep your animal friends inside. If it is too cold for you to be outside, it is also too cold for them.
Winter driving can offer some dangerous conditions. For some sensible winter driving safety tips, go to this link.
Winter in the Annapolis Valley can be very beautiful. Learn more about winter safety for all members of your family, and help each other.
Submitted by Wendy Kearnes, Outreach Services Manager.