Winter will be here before we know it—December 21, to be exact—so it’s time to start planning ahead and weatherizing our households. The cold weather can present various challenges for any homeowner; however, it’s often more difficult for seniors to prepare and maintain their homes during winter (especially if they live alone). As you get ready to batten down the hatches, here are some helpful tips to keep your loved ones safe this winter.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are essential fire safety tools. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. And because the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning increases during the winter due to snowdrifts, make sure there is a working carbon monoxide detector on every floor of the house, including the basement.
For those who are hearing impaired, there are options available, including alarm systems that use strobe lights versus sound to garner attention.
Install storm windows. Heating a home during the winter months can be very expensive. Cut down on costs by installing storm windows to minimize air movement in and out of existing windows. Window and door insulation kits can also be purchased at your local hardware store, providing an effective way to keep cold air out of windows.
Inspect the chimney and heating system. Before you light the first fire of the season, have a certified chimney professional inspect the chimney and flue. If the chimney was frequently used last season, a sweep is likely necessary to remove any build-up and debris. It’s important to remember that a clean chimney is what allows carbon monoxide and other fumes to escape a home.
Coordinate snow removal. Hire a local snow removal company, or perhaps a youthful neighbor, before the season’s first storm. Plan to have snow removed from sidewalks, driveways, and entryways and ice melter put on any stairs and walkways to prevent slipping accidents.
Be ready for power outages. In case of a power outage, stock up on pantry items, batteries, and make sure there is a flashlight is easily accessible. Remember to never use a portable generator inside the home because they emit exhaust that contains carbon monoxide.
Depending on how close you live to your loved one, it’s a good idea to have the contact information of a nearby neighbor who can stop by for quick wellness checks throughout the winter, especially during storms when driving isn’t an option. And if winter ever becomes too much of a burden, options like a senior living community can ease some of the stress.
Share these tips with your friends and family to help everyone have a healthy, happy and warm(er) winter!