Always Be Prepared (For Winter Storms)

Always be prepared. The Boy Scouts’ motto of always being in a state of readiness to do one’s duty can be applied to various areas of life. Many people follow the mantra of “better safe than sorry”, and during this time of the year when Mother Nature has a tendency to rear her head and hit many parts of the country with harsh winter weather, it’s a saying that should be taken to heart. We are only a few weeks into the official winter season, and already many areas of the country have been dealt their share of strong winter storms. If you have a senior loved one who lives in an area often affected by winter weather, it is important to have a plan in place to deal with extreme winter weather conditions before a storm hits. This will help ensure your loved one’s safety and provide you with peace of mind when the storm arrives.

When most people think of severe winter weather, they think of blinding snowstorms and blizzards that can immobilize a community for several days. But there are other conditions that can be just as hazardous:

  • Sleet, freezing rain and black ice all cause treacherous conditions on surface and walkways. This poses a danger to both pedestrians and motorists, especially when icy surfaces are not clearly visible.
  • The heavy weight of snow and ice can cause tree limbs to fall, creating hazards on sidewalks and roadways and possibly interrupting power and phone service. Loss of power is a particular challenge in cold weather as nearly all home heating systems require electricity to function.
  • Even a small amount of snowfall can produce unsafe travel conditions, and can be especially challenging in areas where snowfall isn’t common and communities are less prepared to handle it.

The effects of winter storms pose a real danger to the safety and health of our senior loved ones. Some of these threats include:

  • Power Outages
  • Heart failure or heart attack due to overexertion
  • Hypothermia, frostbite and other side effects from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures
  • Fires caused by unsafe heating apparatuses
  • Asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Fractures from falls
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Automobile accidents

While some accidents may seem unavoidable, you can take precautions to help reduce the chances of one happening to your loved one. A large part of coping with winter weather nuisances is having a proper supply of items needed for a winter weather emergency. This winter storm kit can be stored in a backpack or duffle for easy access. Essential items for this kit include:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medicines
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Water (2 gallons per person per day)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Rock salt
  • Snow shovel
  • Warm blankets
  • Hand-crank radio
  • Matches in a dry storage container
  • Identification and spare keys

You can also take preventative measures to protect your senior loved one’s home against harsh winter weather:

  • Prevent freezing in your pipes by insulating them
  • Cover your water spigots
  • Know ahead of time where gas and water shutoff valves are in case they need to be shut off in an emergency
  • Seal your home’s cracks and air leaks
  • Prevent loss of heat by covering up your windows
  • Make sure your snow removal equipment is properly working
  • Add insulation to your walls and attic
  • Check smoke alarms and install carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them
  • Your car’s gas tank should be near full to avoid freezing lines

Collecting emergency supply items and taking measures to maintain your loved one’s home against winter storms now can help put your mind at ease – and keep your loved one safe – when the next storm hits.