Are you cold yet? We are...
With winter weather in full force and months of colder temperatures ahead, it is important to have a plan for the senior in your life to prepare their home for the harsher months. These 5 tips for winterizing a senior’s home aren’t always simple to tell. Most of this list is things that your elderly loved one will need help doing, so it's good to think ahead.
1. Have a plan in place for ice and snow removal during the winter months
If the senior in your life is used to going out with a shovel or snow blower every year, assess if it is still safe for them to do so. A slip on ice can be dangerous, and it might be more convenient to hire someone to do it for them. Having salt melts on hand, and making sure your loved one has slip-resistant shoes are two good ways to minimize fall risk.
2. Check the heater and ducts before you need to use them
Since heaters sit out of use during the summer months, often, problems with them go unnoticed until they are needed again. Do a test of the heater, thermostat, and a check of the ducts to ensure everything is in working order before it gets too cold. If there is a problem, someone can come to fix it before it becomes an emergency.
3. Check smoke alarms, carbon monoxide readers, and fire extinguishers to make sure everything is working as it should
Homeowners can often overlook regular testing of fire alarms, but it is something that is essential year-round. Make sure to test the batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide readers, and make sure your loved one knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. Impact Fire suggests that homeowners visually inspect their fire extinguishers once per month. These visual checks can be very basic to make sure that the extinguisher appears to be in good condition, and that the gauge indicates proper pressurization. If it has been more than five years since the fire extinguisher has been used or professionally checked, it isn't a bad idea to schedule a more thorough inspection.
4. Clean out gutters, chimneys, and check outdoor faucets for any leaks
Preparing the outside of the home for the winter months is just as important as preparing the inside. Making sure that gutters are clear of fall leaves and that chimneys are free from soot build-up can help your senior's home be more prepared for winter weather. Checking outdoor faucets for leaks can also help prevent unnecessary ice, which could lead to dangerous falls. These are all things that will likely require ladders and other tools, so it is not safe to leave it up to your loved one.
5. Prepare the inside of the home for colder weather
If possible, replace regular curtains with insulated ones. Insulated curtains help hold in the warm air from the heater, especially in homes with older windows. Make sure that there are plenty of blankets around the house, and that all cold-weather gear has been taken out of storage if it was put away during the warmer months. Also, make sure that your senior has an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, and extra batteries in case of a weather emergency.
Other things that can help during the colder months are general home updates, which can initially be costly but can save hundreds in the long run. The U.S. Department of Energy has a Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income households and seniors that can help improve the efficiency of their homes. For more information on the program, click HERE.
Maybe these 5 tips for winterizing seniors home's can be your way of helping out a loved one this holiday season. We sure hope so.