Whether it’s global warming or our imaginations, winter storms seem to get more intense every year, so it’s always good to take the required precautions to stay safe. Blizzards can completely disrupt cities—stopping drivers, halting emergency responders, and even causing power outages. Unfortunately, the two most vulnerable groups of people when it comes to cold weather are the elderly or very young. Many weather-related casualties are not from storms themselves, but rather from the aftermath— elderly people stranded in their homes, overexertion from shoveling snow causing heart attacks or strokes, or automobile accidents due to unsafe roads. While it is difficult to predict exactly what will be damaged by a winter storm, it is possible to know when they will occur, and that vital piece of information will hopefully give you enough time to prepare.
Many people across the country live in small towns and while this doesn’t mean total isolation during a storm, it does mean longer recovery time, so it is best to be prepared on your own. If you are lucky enough to be at home during an extreme winter storm, plan in advance to have supplies that will allow you to stay comfortable and warm. If your home has a fireplace, keep an ample supply of firewood in case the heat goes out. Canned and non-perishable foods are necessary in situations where you lose power or the roads are snowed in. Check that emergency equipment such as flashlights and electric generators are in working order. Lastly, keep bottles of clean water for drinking and cooking because your pipes may freeze.
When you are weathering the storm you will want to receive the latest weather updates. Luckily, weather updates are automatically programmed into many smart phones, but if your phone does not do this, then manually sign up for weather alerts through your mobile phone or email. The Weather Channel offers free weather alerts for any postal code on their website. Sometimes though, the internet goes out, so have a radio available as well. Be sure all of your mobile devices are charged ahead of time in case of a power outage.
Mobile and home phones are especially important for older people who live alone. A senior’s family, wherever they may be living, will want to know they are safe. If the family lives in another province, older people should designate a friend or neighbor as an emergency point of contact. If you are an older person that lives near loved ones, it could be a good idea to group together at one location. Locate a place for everyone to meet when a winter storm warning is issued, depending on where you and your family are.
You should also make sure your house is fortified for the winter. Make sure the home’s walls and attic are properly insulated to avoid losing heat. To avoid pipes bursting, keep faucets dripping. It is also important to know how to locate and stop your home’s water valves in case a pipe does burst. Set up emergency heating equipment, such as a fireplace with wood or a portable stove with plenty of fuel. If electricity does not go out, space heaters can be very helpful when used correctly. Space heaters should remain at least three feet away from all furniture, flammable items, or drapes. Once everyone leaves the room, turn off the heater. Never place any objects directly on a heater.
If, for some reason, you do need to travel in extreme conditions, or if you are stuck in the middle of a storm in your car, make sure the car is properly fitted for the winter. Before the season, have your car’s radiator system serviced, check the antifreeze level, and be certain the windshield wipers are in good condition. If your tires have worn-down tread, replace them. It is also a good idea to keep jumper cables and chains in the trunk. These basic steps will hopefully prevent an emergency from occurring and keep you safe during the winter months.
Contributed by: Jacob Edward
Author Bio: Jacob Edward is the founder of Senior Planning, a free service dedicated to helping Seniors find care. He is also the founder of Prime Medical Alert.