EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 31, 2012

Agency issues winter safety tips for older people

By Rosanne DiStefano
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Q: I just relocated to the area after living for many years in a warmer climate. I am a little nervous about living alone in my home not knowing what the weather is going to be like over the next few months. Do you have any safety tips for older people? I am sure there are others who could benefit from the information.

A: Last winter was unusually mild so odds are we won’t be as lucky this year. Everyone, even those who look forward to the snow, should be aware of the steps to take to keep them safe. We just received a memo from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency regarding winter safety tips which we would like to share with you. Carefully consider all their suggestions.

1. Keep a well stocked emergency kit which should include flashlights, extra batteries, a portable radio, bottled water, manual can opener, non-perishable food and a first aid kit. All these items would be essential in the event of a power outage.

2. Minimize outside activities, older adults are more vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia.

3. When you do venture out into extreme temperatures wearing layers of loose fitting, light weight clothing is more beneficial than a single layer of heavy clothing. Cover your head/hands and wear sensible water proof footwear.

4. Never let the gas tank fall below half-full on vehicles, carry blankets, extra clothing, shovel, jumper cables, and a windshield scraper whenever driving in blizzard conditions. In the event of an accident or mechanical emergency be prepared for a wait until assistance arrives.

5. Pay attention to gauges on oil tanks or propane tanks if that is your main heating source in the home. Schedule a furnace check-up every fall to make sure it is in good working condition. If you have a fireplace that is used to supplement heat have a fire extinguisher handy, and functional fire/carbon monoxide detectors on every floor.

6. Close off rooms not in use to conserve heat, wrap water pipes and leave a faucet slightly dripping to ward off freezing pipes.

Additional information may be obtained about winter safety tips at www.mass.gov/mema.

Do you have a question? We encourage input from our readers, direct inquiries to ro@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc.