Ohio Department of Aging offers winter safety tips to older Ohioans

DAYTON — Severe winter weather can be hard on everyone, but older adults may have a harder time adjusting to bad conditions than they did when they were younger.

With winter storm warnings anticipated for much of the state, the Ohio Department of Aging offers tips for older adults and caregivers to prepare and urges all Ohioans to check on older loved ones and neighbors before, during, and after the storm.

“Winter weather increases the risk for illness, injury, and isolation. Be prepared, be safe, and stay connected so we can weather the storm together,” said Ursel J. McElroy, director of the department.

Winter Safety

Older Ohioans are encouraged to have an emergency plan and kit that will allow them to remain in place for at least three days if they are unable to safely leave their homes. A plan should include the names and phone numbers of people that can be called for help if needed, where to go if it is unsafe to remain in the home, and how to get there.

An emergency kit should include essentials such as a battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries for both of those items; a loud horn whistle or bell to signal for help; food that can be opened and prepared easily without electricity; one gallon of water per person, per day; extra blankets; and a first-aid kit. Older adults should include additional items in their kits, such as spare glasses and hearing aid batteries; a backup supply of medications; and non-powered options for assistive and medical equipment that may not work without electricity.

Older Ohioans are also encouraged to ensure assistive devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are in good repair and easy to access in an emergency. They should have a plan for how to explain to rescue workers how to move them or help them move safely and quickly. They should also ask a reliable family member, friend, or neighbor to visit or call in an emergency and agree on a plan for what they should do if they are unable to reach them or find them needing help.

Older Ohioans can receive a free daily check-in call year-round by enrolling in the Staying Connected Service at www.aging.ohio.gov/stayingconnected.

More winter safety tips are available on the department’s website at www.aging.ohio.gov/wintersafety.

Check On Neighbors

All Ohioans are encouraged to check in on older loved ones and neighbors before, during, and after severe weather. Checking in helps them feel connected. It also gives people an opportunity to spot potential issues and help them get assistance if they need it.

• Check their home: Is the temperature comfortable? Are they heating it safely? Is there any damage to their home? Are outdoor walkways clear of snow, ice, and debris?

• Check their health: Do they appear alert and aware? Have they fallen? Are they taking their medications as prescribed? Do they need medical attention?

• Check that their daily needs are being met: Do they have safe food and water? Are they able to do what they need to do? Do they have someone to call for support and a reliable way to call for emergency help if they need it?

Caregivers can check in on an older loved one or neighbor by telephone, video call, or in-person. If visiting their home, please be safe, wear a face mask, and wash hands or use hand sanitizer often. More tips for checking on neighbors are on the department’s website at www.aging.ohio.gov/checkyourneighbor.