01Feb

Winter is officially upon us! While some will be enjoying a variety of winter activities like skiing, sledding, and skating, most of us will be passing the days catching up on indoor hobbies. At Patient Safety USA, we like to spend our time helping our clients and friends stay safe. With frigid temperatures, icy surfaces, and contagious sicknesses, winter is not without risks—especially for elderly or disabled individuals. Whether you choose to embrace or avoid the coldest season, following safe practices will help prevent winter-related injury and illness.

For most locations throughout the country, February is often the coldest and snowiest month of the year. This means cold days and even colder nights—and an increasing need to keep ourselves prepared for winter. Homes come in all shapes and sizes; no matter how or where you live, there are key steps to preventing winter disasters. For residents of nursing homes, apartment complexes, or hospitals, much of the work should be done by building management. Sidewalks and parking areas should be promptly cleared following a snow storm. When snow turns to ice, swift application of ice melt and traction agents greatly reduce falls, especially where elderly, disabled, or individuals with limited mobility are living. When in doubt, avoid questionable walkways, seeking alternate routes where possible.

Once the outside has been taken care of, the interior of the residence should be secured as well. Regular inspections of heating systems, including keeping a close eye on heating oil levels, help prevent failure. Drafts mean a colder house and higher heating bill, so windows should be sealed to prevent drafts. To prepare for a power outage or other emergency, non-perishable food with a long shelf life (such as soup, canned vegetables, etc.) should be stored in an accessible location. While dressing appropriately for winter is important for everyone, this is especially true of the elderly who are much more susceptible to cold. Opt for layers when possible, eliminating skin exposed to the elements, and limit trips outside once the temperature dips below freezing.

While most winter risks involve physical dangers due to adverse conditions, it’s also important to remember a less obvious danger: germs. As we find ourselves indoors trying to avoid the cold, we are more likely to pass on or catch colds, flus, and many other illnesses. Fortunately, these germs can be greatly reduced by proper hand washing and drying. Hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement communities can help ensure all residents have access with wheelchair accessible sinks. Height adjustable handicapped sinks offer greater flexibility than traditional wall mounted wheelchair sinks. For ultimate protection, we recommend adding CPC hand dryers, eradicating germs and purifying the air as they run. (For full benefits of the CPC dryer, see here.)

Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Now is a great time to try something new. Take a class, pick up a new hobby, get lost in a book—there are many ways to enjoy spending time this winter. Stay safe and enjoy!