By Kevin Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
The old cliché “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is not always true unless you have prepped for the winter. I learned that the hard way today when we got our first snow of the year. I do remember thinking over the summer that I needed to get a tune up on the generator. I still haven’t covered my water hose pipes and need to buy some salt for the driveway. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the first snow. Luckily, I still have some time and energy and will make sure I am better prepped for the next big snow or power outage.
If you are a senior or take care of a senior, it is very important to start prepping in the fall so winter can be the most wonderful time of the year! Remember that our seniors are more vulnerable and have a much higher risk of falls and can get hypothermia easier as the body’s ability to regulate temperature lessens with age. First, it’s important to think about the outside of the home while the weather is still tolerable. I recommend buying salt for the porches and driveways and covering any outside water sources to prevent freezing. Also, make sure the car and generators have been serviced and are winterized. If there is a fireplace, it is important to have a chimney flue inspection to ensure debris is cleaned out and the fireplace is in working order. While the car is being winterized, do not forget to pack up some extra blankets, a first aid kit, extra warm clothes, gloves, and a hat. It is also a good idea to have items in the car such as booster cables, a windshield scraper, some water and snacks and a flashlight. Might as well add some of that rock salt or some cat litter in a container to add to the car. This will help in case your wheels get stuck.
Once you have taken care of the outside, make sure to gather a stockpile of items such as batteries, flashlights, and candles to store in a convenient place in case of a power outage. Do an inspection on the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working well. Also, not a bad idea to check the inside of the home for any gaps or leaks from the doors and windows. Add weather stripping to any doors and windows to keep the cold out. Some people may like to put up plastic on the windows to help chilly air from leaking. Another option is to have thermal lined drapes for the windows that do not receive direct sunlight. These thick curtains can help to keep the home warmer and lower the heating bill. Make sure that the heat furnace has a clean filter and has been serviced for the winter.
Next, make sure that the kitchen is stocked with water, frozen vegetables, canned soups, and other non-perishables. Make sure that the home has plenty of warmer clothes to layer in case of a power outage as well. Extra socks, light jackets, gloves, scarves, hats, and other warm clothes will come in handy if easily accessible. Another item to check is the wear and tear on the rubber tips of canes or walkers. They can be replaced. They also make ice pick-like attachments that will fit onto the ends for additional traction.
Finally, have a plan. If your senior lives alone, please arrange for neighbors to check in often. Know what to do when an emergency happens. If the power goes out or a snowstorm comes, make sure there is a plan to take the senior somewhere else or have someone stay with them. Taking extra precautions and having a plan can help make winter a wonderful time of the year!