You may have heard the expression: ‘When thunder roars, go indoors’, but the truth is as the colder weather closes in, it is important to get you, your home and your car ready.
From looking after your health, warmth and well-being, to keeping your mood good and spirits high, the devil is in the detail and advance planning is key to a relaxed and happy winter season.
Start thinking now about a few simple ways you can stay safe and well this winter. Here are our five practical ways to be ready for the hazards of this Winter.
1. Winterize your home
Get your home ready with storm windows, insulate water lines that run along exterior walls and update or install weather stripping and insulation. Air leakage is one of the biggest challenges when keeping homes warm in winter, so it is absolutely worth looking for it. Be efficient about it and aim to fix the big leaks. The big holes are in the floor and the ceiling.
Get your heating system professionally checked and ensure you have an alternative source of heat and fuel, should you need it. Store a supply of blankets. Keep drapes open during the day to take in the warmth of the sun and close at night to act as an additional layer of insulation.
Work outside to clear all walkways of leaves and snow and use cat litter or sand to cover over any icy patches and remove slip hazards to make sure your yard is safe to use throughout the colder weather.
2. Vaccinations & health checks
Find out if you can get your flu vaccination for free with your medical practitioner. It is no secret that the human immune defenses weaken with age and people over the age of 65 are at greater risk of complications from the influenza virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over six months old gets the influenza vaccination each year by the end of October.
Make sure you see your ophthalmologist to get your vision checked and ask if you are entitled to free eye care services. If your vision is poor or you do not have the correct glasses, this can affect your balance and you are more likely to suffer a fall. VISION USA was an organization that offered free eye care to low-income or uninsured people although this under remodel so they are not currently carrying out eye care assignments.
See your physician, ahead of the colder weather to ensure you have enough of your regular medicines to see you through any unexpected weather where you can’t get out, such as in heavy snow or storm weather. Also, a checkup with your physician will ensure you are still getting the correct medicines, dosage etc for your specific needs and that nothing is out of date.
3. Be Neighborly
Organize to check in on a neighbor at least once a week and organize for a neighbor to check in on you. Even if it is to sit and chat, or to have a game of cards, or take a walk, regular contact with the outside world ensures someone always knows you are safe.
If you do have to travel when the weather is bad, advise a friend or neighbor when you are leaving and inform them when you arrive at your destination. Always carry your cell phone with you.
4. Prepare for Winter Related Emergencies
It is always better to be prepared ahead of a winter storm. There are certain essentials to keep in a safe but accessible place in your home. A flashlight or portable lantern is useful because the electricity often cuts out in a storm. Equally a wireless radio (hand crank) and some batteries are essential, so your flashlight has power for as long as you need it.
A first aid kit is a very sensible idea. If you cannot reach a medical professional, you need to be able to treat any minor injuries yourself with your medical kit. It should contain antiseptic spray, gauze pads, scissors, adhesive tape, ace bandages, disposable adhesive bandages, tweezers, ibuprofen, burn gel and sterile gloves. Also have a spare wash bag which contains all of your regular toiletries, so you have everything you need if you cannot get out to the store for a few days.
It is also a great idea to have three days of food and water stored somewhere. Sometimes your water supply can become compromised or contaminated in a bad storm, so it is especially important to have water. The American Red Cross recommends to store and allow for one gallon of emergency bottled water per person per day.
Make sure your car is ready and well maintained with winter tires, antifreeze and radiator checked. Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice building up inside. Also, in case you get stranded have an emergency kit in the car, including blankets, water, food, flashlight and batteries, first aid, as well as items such as cat litter (for traction) plastic bags (for sanitation) and cables, flares and tire pump to get you moving again if needed.
5. Dress in Layers
Key areas of your body to keep warm in winter are your head, your feet and your neck. Wear a cap to sleep in and even wear around the house. If you are outside, wear a scarf or stretchy neck fleece warmer to keep your face and neck warm and protected.
House slippers with rubber soles make a huge difference to keeping your feet warm. Opt for wool socks which let your feet breathe (sweaty feet create wet socks and wet socks will make you cold).
A wicking polyester t-shirt next to your body will keep you warm but draw any perspiration away from your body for maximum comfort. Flannel lined pants are also another smart way to stay stylish but extremely warm.
When outdoors, layer up with a fleece jacket and weather resistant outer layer to keep your body at a comfortable temperature, without overheating. Remember, you do not need to layer yourself so much that you are pouring with sweat – you just need to focus on how to keep your body warm AND dry.
Before you go to bed at night, a good tip is to place a hot water bottle under the covers so your bedclothes are warm when you climb in. Also invest in some fleece blankets, they are remarkably effective at retaining heat.