Safety tips for icy winters

If you are a caregiver, keep the ice melt and shovel inside your loved one’s home.  Along with shoveling the walkways, it’s always a good idea to have plenty of ice-melt on hand. If possible, try to make sure someone is putting enough ice-melt on the walkway in order to prevent any build-up.

Encourage your loved one to wear appropriate shoes.  Having a special pair of boots or shoes with non-slip tracking can help decrease the likelihood of falls while out on snow and ice.

Make a plan with neighbors and relatives ahead of time: For light ice or snow, you may be able to handle spreading the ice melt, but work out a shoveling arrangement for larger storms; ask a relative, a neighbor, or a teen in the neighborhood.

Tips for outdoors

Other considerations:

— If you must walk on snow, it should be "crunchy";

— Walk slowly and pay attention;

— Try to avoid particularly hazardous areas;

— Avoid reaching or twisting when walking and standing;

— Keep one hand free for balance unless using a walker;

— Use a waist belt pack or backpack instead of carrying a purse;

— Avoid carrying heavy items;

— Use a portable grocery cart; and

— Install automatic or timed lighting outside.

Advice for indoors

Falls can occur inside of the home as well, but there are a few extra things to consider when it comes to keeping loved ones safe:

— Non-slip socks or slippers:  Walking on cold floors can be uncomfortable. If you wear slippers or socks;

— Cleaning up wet spots: Tracking snow into the house can sometimes be a problem. To prevent this, try to make sure boots and any wet clothing can dry above a winter doormat; and

— Keeping clutter to a minimum: Clutter can build up in the winter months with all of the extra clothes and blankets. Prevent this by making sure everything is in its proper place.

Remember, falls are one of the most common problems our elderly loved ones have but they are also one of the most preventable.

Editor’s note; Kathy Burbank is the executive director of Community Caregivers.

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