While our home chores this time of year tend to focus on fertilizing the lawn for next spring and battening down the hatches for energy savings, we should also be thinking about safety, especially for the seniors in our lives. Here are five steps to take, courtesy of Consumer Reports, to make your home a safe haven in the winter months.
1. Prepare for ice. Reduce the risk of falls by stocking up now on snowmelt, and putting a plan in place for shoveling. If no one at home is healthy enough to take on the shoveling chore, set up a standing arrangement with a snow-removal service or a neighborhood teenager to automatically come to your home when bad weather hits.
2. Service your heating system. Hypothermia can occur in older adults even when the temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so have your thermostat checked and furnace serviced to make sure they’re functioning properly.
3. Inspect space heaters. While they can be necessary in case of a heating system failure, space heaters are also a fire hazard, so be sure to check the cords and test them in advance to make sure they’re in good working order.
4. Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Put new batteries in and make sure there are enough units throughout the home.
5. Be smart about generators. If you have a generator or are thinking about getting one, know how to use it. Never operate it in an enclosed space and make sure it’s at least 20 feet from your home, windows and doors, with the exhaust pointing away from your home.