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Prep for Winter: Elderly Check List

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Shhhhh...don't tell anyone, but I have already pulled out my hoodies and have worn them a couple times...IN SEPTEMBER!

Fall is quickly approaching and before we know it winter will be blowing in. It is easy to put off certain things when we are still using our air conditioners much of the time. When we are ready to start winterizing, there are waiting lists, lack of supplies because everyone else is doing what you are doing, or winter blew in faster than expected. This is a friendly reminder to start getting prepared!

Many elderly may not think about some of these winterizing tips. These can be life saving suggestions that you can put into place!

  • Have a Furnace Tune Up!

A furnace tune up is a great way for a professional technician to look over the furnace to determine if there are any problems. This is very important because if something is broken and is not repaired, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is a high risk problem. There is a risk of death if the problem is not resolved. A good rule of thumb is to have the furnace looked over before it is ever turned on for the fall/winter season. Also, have a new filter ready to help with dust control the first time it is turned on for the season.

  • To Get or Not to Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

For me, personally, I never grew up knowing what this device was. However, I picked up one and tried it out. When it started going off, I thought it was short circuiting, but it wasn't. We never know when our furnace might break, malfunction, or release carbon monoxide. Since our homes are typically shut up tight in the winter, it is important to have a device like this so elderly can be notified of a potential problem. Be sure to put the device where it is hard to turn off, but also one that is loud. There might be some devices that can connect to a smartphone so a family member can be notified if it goes off or needs the battery changed.

  • Winterizing windows.

Some elderly still live in the old farm house or a house with older windows. Watching the curtains move during those blustery cold winter winds isn't much fun. It means that the furnace has to work overtime to keep the house warm. It also means that elderly can become cold very quickly since their circulation isn't as it once was. Elderly can freeze to death, literally, and that is why it is important to cover older windows with plastic. Many of the products out there are easy to apply. Even if it is applied just to the indoor side of the windows, it helps. Of course, applying a layer of plastic to the outside of the windows helps provide an added barrier against the harsh winter, too.

  • Winterizing the pipes.

Heat tape is helpful on metal pipes. Be sure to ask a professional before applying heat tape. Our family has found that using insulation and electrical tape around the plumbing is helpful. However, if pipes are on a north wall or in an area that is not insulated well (like under a trailer house), be sure to remind your loved ones to keep a faucet dripping during the nights where temperatures plummet. It is not recommended that a space heater be used, but if that is a last resort, be sure that no extension cords are being used, nothing flammable is nearby, and that the heater is checked often to make sure it is not overheating. A space heater can be very dangerous.

  • Create a Plan For Clearing Snow

Snow and ice are HUGE fall risk factors when winter approaches. Be sure to start calling dependable people, neighbors, or companies and do some price checking. Have those numbers available to call or have a prearrangement made for snow removal. At our home, we go to a co-op and get potash to put on the sidewalks and other slick areas because it won't eat away at our sidewalks and concrete stairs like some of the other salts and melts available on the market.

At Home Sweet Home Cares & Services, LLC, we want the best for your families. Start preparing now for the upcoming winter. Here in Iowa we hope for mild winters, but it can change in an instant. Winterizing isn't the most fun thing to think about, but it is a necessary evil to keep our loved ones safe.

*****On a side note, if your loved ones happen to have bird feeders out, please keep an eye on those so your loved ones reduce their time going outside to fill a feeder. If your loved one were to fall, they might not be able to get back up or be able to call for help.

Stay safe & warm this winter!


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