January 12

Winter Safety Tips

As the region braces for some of the coldest weather of the winter, Gardant Management Solutions reminds you to be safe and stay warm this season.

Man Using SnowblowerOlder adults are among those who are especially vulnerable to winter weather because of a diminished ability to endure long periods of exposure to cold temperatures. Older adults often make less body heat because their metabolisms are slower and they are less physically active. Certain diseases such as diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s Disease, and arthritis, and some medications, including over-the-counter cold remedies, can make it harder for your body to stay warm.

Some older adults can even develop hypothermia after exposure to relatively mild cold weather or a small drop in temperature.

With hypothermia, your body temperature drops to dangerously low levels. Among older adults, significant health problems can occur when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Hypothermia can cause a heart attack, problems with your kidneys, and damage to your liver. It can cost you your life.

Based on information from the National Institute on Aging (NAI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are some winter safety tips:

  • Set the temperature in your home or apartment to at least 68 degrees. Be sure to check the temperature often.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages; they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
  • Dress in layers as the air between the layers will help you keep warm. Wear wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers; these fabrics hold in heat better than cotton. Wear a hat or cap.
  • Wear long johns under your clothes. Throw a blanket over your legs. Wear socks and slippers.
  • Wear long johns under your pajamas. Use extra covers. Wear a cap or hat when in bed.
  • Stay inside when it is very windy outside. A high wind can quickly lower your body temperature.
  • Finds ways to stay active.
  • Talk with your doctor about any health problems and medicines that can make hypothermia a special problem for you.
  • Ask relatives, friends, neighbors to check on you frequently, especially when the weather conditions are extremely cold.
  • Know the signs of Hypothermia and watch for them.

Signs of Hypothermia
Pale skin, cold feet and hands.
Puffy or swollen face.
Slower speech, slurring words.
Acting sleepy.
Anger or confusion.
Trouble walking or moving.
Stiff or jerky arm or leg movements.
Slow, irregular heart beat.
Slow, shallow breathing.
Blacking out, loss of consciousness.

If you think someone has signs of hypothermia, call 911 and get medical attention immediately.

Until medical help arrives, get the person into a warm room or shelter. Wrap the person in a blanket. Warm the center of the body first. Do not rub the person’s arms or legs, do not use a heating pad, and do not try to warm the person in a bath.

To read the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s (IEMA) guide to Winter Weather Preparedness, click here.

Also, keep in mind that Gardant communities will serve as warming centers. If you know a senior or an individual with disabilities who needs a place to warm up, encourage them to stop by one of our communities. Visit our Locate a Community page to find one of our buildings near you.

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