Staying Safe, Healthy and Warm This Winter

With winter just now upon us, it’s easy to be a little rusty on staying healthy, happy and safe this season. Ice, snow, cold temperatures, staying in more - these are challenging for anyone during these months. With some caution and level-headedness, we can enter this season happy, healthy, and ready to take it on. 


Knowing of what is to come, and what to expect, the most important thing one can do is to be prepared. Prepare your home and vehicle to withstand the winter weather ahead of time. Be prepared for those winter emergencies that can pop up. 


The cold weather will increase the amount of time we stay inside, so it’s crucial to ready your home for the plummeting temperatures. Check your heating system and have it professionally serviced to ensure it’s running smoothly. Have your chimney cleaned or inspected. Make sure your oil tank is full and you have plenty of wood if that’s what you rely on as a heating source. 


An additional safety step to take is to ensure your smoke detectors are working, and consider installing carbon monoxide detectors as well if you don’t already have them. 


It’s also a good idea to prepare for emergencies, such as severe storms or power outages. Stock shelf-stable food and containers of water that you can use if you lose power. If a storm is predicted, keep your cell phone charged, and flashlights or candles at the ready. If you use a generator, have it serviced, and make sure if you need it, you leave it running outside and do not take it into your house.


Falls are a concern in the slippery weather, especially for seniors. Find waterproof winter boots with solid traction. If you use a cane, switch out the tip so you are ready. When you come in from the cold, find a place to sit and take off and store all of your gear, that way you’ll know where it is so you’re ready to go next time you need to venture out. This will also prevent your gear from having ice melt in your house, making it slippery.


If you need to shovel, make sure you take plenty of breaks, don’t push yourself, and know when it’s OK to hire a professional if you aren’t physically able to take care of it. If you do need to be outside, make sure you know the signs of hypothermia or frostbite- look for numb appendages, shivering, confusion, etc. Be safe!


In addition to preparing your house, you also need to winterize your car. Try to do this early before winter rolls in. Check your tires, switch them out if you need all-season or winter treads. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is topped off and that you have a full tank of gas. Toss your ice scraper in the trunk. While getting these tasks completed, consider making or purchasing an emergency kit to stash in your vehicle. 


When deciding to travel by car make sure the roads are safe, bring a charged cell-phone and try to let someone know where you are going. 


Fuel Assistance 


Don’t be afraid to seek help if you are struggling this winter. There are many organizations available to help you if you are struggling to afford necessities. In our area, we are lucky to have heating fuel assistance through LEO Inc. (Leading through Empowering Opportunities). This amazing agency provides assistance to those who meet the eligibility requirements in Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Saugus, Swampscott and Wakefield. They provide heating assistance, no matter what source you use to heat your house. To apply or to see if you are eligible, call 781-309-5639.


Beat the Winter Blues  


With people staying indoors more, and traveling less to see friends and family - especially this year - this can lead to loneliness and isolation. Try to combat this seasonal depression with reaching out to those you care about, making plans for things you are able to do and look forward to. Check-in with those around you, especially seniors. 


The sensitivity to the lack of sunlight causes emotional and hormonal imbalances for everyone. Sometimes, these mild blues can make way for something more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder. If things feel like they aren’t getting better, you notice a pattern of behavior, or you feel like you can’t get out of bed in the mornings, contact your physician - this can be treated, to get you back to where you need to be to feel good. 


No matter what the winter brings in during this year, follow the safety guidelines, use your best judgement, and know that we are all in this together!

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