News Flash


Posted on: February 20, 2019

Keeping Your Elderly Loved Ones Safe During Inclement Weather

Dade County Seniors

No matter where you live, bad or unexpected weather is bound to happen. With our recent winter storm, flooding, and upcoming spring storm season, here is a quick guide for protecting seniors around their homes and out-and-about.

POWER OUTAGES. Whether it’s a winter storm, during a flood, or tornado season ─ snow, ice, rain, and wind can cause power outages.

Here is how to prepare a senior for those occurrences:

  • Supply them with phone numbers of all utility companies ─ power, gas, and water. Also include emergency numbers such as the fire department, police, doctor, and/or home care provider. Quick access to these phone numbers is crucial.
  • Make sure seniors are equipped with working flashlights and a battery-powered radio. Always have extra batteries on hand.
  • Seniors should have warm blankets and non-perishable food items, and if it’s cold or damp, wear several layers of clothing. Moving around also raises body temperature.
  • Does your senior rely on a home medical device powered by energy? As soon as an essential medical device is put in service in the home, the local electric utility should be notified of its existence and need. This can put your loved one on a list for immediate attention during a power outage.

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING. Burning wood, natural gas, kerosene, and other fuels produces carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that no one can see or smell. Unless fireplaces, wood and gas stoves, and gas appliances are properly vented, cleaned, and used, they can leak dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide. These and other appliances, such as kerosene and electric heaters, can also be fire hazards. Here are some sound safety measures you can take:

  • Call an inspector. Chimneys and flues need to be inspected yearly and cleaned when necessary. (Ask the local fire department to recommend an inspector, or look up “chimney cleaning” for your area.)
  • Open a window. Just a crack will do when using a kerosene stove.
  • Use carbon monoxide detectors. Put battery-operated carbon monoxide and smoke detectors near fireplaces, wood stoves, or kerosene heaters.
  • Never allow someone to heat a home using a gas stove. Charcoal grills or other stoves are not made for home heating.

DRIVING TIPS. Adults 65 and older are involved in more car accidents per mile driven than those in any other age group. Because driving can be more hazardous during bad weather, seniors should:

  • Have the car weatherized ahead of time. This means having antifreeze, tires, and windshield wipers checked and changed, as needed.
  • Take a cell phone when driving in bad weather. Seniors should always let someone know where they are going and when they expect to arrive, in case a call for help is necessary.
  • Avoid wet or icy roadways, overpasses, or bridges, if possible. Check new outlets for road conditions. It may be wise to consider a different route.
  • Stock the car with basic emergency supplies, such as:
    - a first aid kit
    - blankets & warm clothes
    - booster cables
    - containers of water and dried foods
    - a flashlight and a shovel

SLIPPERY SURFACES. Falls are common for senior citizens and can cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma, and major lacerations. It is easy to slip and fall, especially in wet, icy, and snowy conditions, but here are some precautions that can be taken:

  • Salt walkways to remove ice. At home, seniors should stay inside until pathways are clear. When away, they should look for sidewalks that are dry and cleared.
  • Seniors should wear boots with non-skid soles to prevent slippage. Have them remove footwear as soon as they return indoors because rain, snow, and ice can be tracked in and lead to slippery conditions inside.
  • If a senior uses a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth. You might also buy (at a medical supply store) an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane.

With a sound plan in place, seniors can be properly prepared for inclement weather. Visit our local Dade County Senior Center to learn more about how you can help keep your loved ones safe during inclement weather and for programs available to assist you in caring for your elderly loved ones.

Facebook Twitter Email