Cold weather tips for seniors

Posted on January 17, 2019

As we age, cold weather can be extremely dangerous, leading to hypothermia and other serious injuries. Below are some safety tips…

  • Dress in multiple layers:
    • Older adults can lose body heat quickly but be unaware that a change in the body temperature is occurring, making them susceptible to hypothermia
    • If going outside wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves, scarf, and shoes with traction
  • For those at home think about:
    • Keeping the furnace at 68 degrees at a minimum
    • Limiting the use of space heaters as they can be dangerous (they create a risk for fires and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning)
    • Creating a small safety kit which includes;
      • Bottled water
      • Medications
      • Hand warmers
      • A whistle
      •  Flashlight
    • Make sure the pantry is full

How to prevent & identify hypothermia and frostbite:

Frostbite Damage to the skin that can go all the way down to the bone

Most likely to occur on body parts farthest from the heart (fingers, toes, nose, ears cheeks, chin)

Heart disease and circulation problems create higher risk; could even result in loss of limbs

Cover up all parts of your body

Go inside right away if your skin turns red or dark or starts hurting


Warning signs:

Skin that is white or ashy or grayish-yellow

Skin that feels hard or waxy


If it occurs, run the area under warm water (not hot) and get medical help

Hypothermia Body temperature drops to a dangerous level (below 95° F)

Shivering is not a reliable waning sign because elders tend to shiver less or not at all when their body temperature drops

Limit time outside or just stay indoors

Stay dry

Dress smart

Warning signs:

Skin that is pale or ashy

Feeling tired, confused, sleepy

Feeling weak

Difficulty walking

Slowed breathing or heart rate

If it occurs, call 911

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