As the leaves change and the mercury falls, it’s increasingly obvious winter is on the way. If you are the caregiver for an aging parent, it’s time to begin preparing their house for the cold, snowy days ahead.
This checklist will help you get started.
Winter Home Safety Checklist
1. Have the furnace inspected.
This is one of the most important winter preparedness tasks. Having the senior’s furnace inspected by a heating specialist is vital for more than just making sure it’s ready to heat the home.
A heating system inspection also identifies any cracks or leaks in the furnace that can cause carbon monoxide to enter the home. According to the Poison Control Center, carbon monoxide exposure accounts for 15,000 emergency room visits a year and an average of 439 deaths. Seniors make up a large portion of those.
2. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Another item on your winter safety checklist is making sure both the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detector work. Experts say there should be a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home.
It’s proven that having working smoke detectors properly installed in the home saves lives. For older adults with mobility challenges that can impede their ability to evacuate quickly, they are especially important. Download this smoke detector safety checklist from the National Fire Protection Association to learn more.
3. Shut off and drain outdoor water faucets.
A frozen pipe that bursts on a cold day is more than just an annoyance. It can also lead to damage in or around the home. Most homes have at least one or two outside faucets. Disconnect the hoses, drain the faucet, and turn off the tap before the first freeze.
4. Have the gutters cleaned.
When leaves build up in gutters they can cause ice jams during winter months. This blocks the flow of water through the gutters, which can lead to water finding its way into the home or basement.
5. Develop a plan for ice and snow removal.
Falls are a leading cause of disability for older adults, but shoveling snowy walkways is also a danger. Before the snow falls, work with your senior loved one on a plan for removing snow and ice and salting walkways.
If you don’t have anyone who can handle these tasks for the older adult, call the local agency on aging. They typically keep a list of contractors seniors and families can call for assistance.
6. Stock up on basics.
Don’t wait for the first snowfall forecast to head to the store for basic supplies. Stock up now. Your winter storm closet should include nonperishable foods (e.g., peanut butter, crackers, canned meats) and bottled water. If your loved one has a pet, also include food and water for them.
Blankets, flashlights, a battery-operated cell phone charger, a can opener, an emergency weather radio, and extra batteries are also important. Remind your family member to stay on top of prescription refills. This can keep them safe if they are trapped in the house for a few days during a winter storm.
Respite Care at Sunrise Senior Living
If the thought of being home alone during a winter storm is too much for your loved one, a respite stay at a senior living community might be a good solution. The senior can stay for a month or so during the heart of winter. It can help them stay active and engaged while also giving their families peace of mind.
Call the Sunrise Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!