As a professional or family caregiver, your responsibilities are amplified in winter weather.
While on the lookout for below-freezing temperatures, icy sidewalks, seasonal depression, and more, many caregivers don’t stop to think about themselves. To help you out during some of the most extreme weather months, here is a list of winter safety tips for caregivers that will help you and the ones you care for!
If you assist an individual with their mobility, whether supporting them as they stand up and sit down or push a manual wheelchair, consider wearing gloves every time you’re outside this winter. In theory, this is a no-brainer. In practice, gloves are forgotten or underestimated all the time. Obviously, you want to avoid your hands getting cold, but you will also want to avoid drying out your hands because you use them every day to provide care. Tip: Tuck a different pair of gloves in each of your winter coats so you always know you have a pair, no matter how fast you rush out of the house.
Pack the Car with Extra Layers
Hope for the best and prepare for the unexpected. The unexpected, but not unlikely, winter scenario would be that you have issues with a mode of transportation and you’re stuck in an unheated vehicle until help comes. Pack extra gloves, hats, scarves, blankets and hand/foot warmers in case this happens! There should be enough for the individual(s) you care for and for yourself.
Lay Ice Melt out on Pathways
When the pathways are slick, it’s often easier to stay inside. However, getting out of the house, even for a short amount of time, is one way that you and the ones you care for can fight seasonal depression. But first, you need to make sure that there is enough friction on the path to use it safely. Slick ice is one of the most dangerous aspects of cold weather. No matter what shoes you wear, you should put ice melt on all walking surfaces such as the sidewalk, ramps, stairs, etc. to avoid hazardous slips and falls. Typical rock salt or sand will work on concrete and wood structures. If the structure is aluminum, we recommend magnesium chloride ice melt to avoid damage to the access solution.
Keep Access Solutions Clear
For similar reasons as keeping the ice off the walking surfaces, you’ll also need to keep the snow out of the way.The safest bet is to use a plastic shovel to scoop snow off the sidewalk, stairs, or ramp and then follow behind with a broom to make sure to clear as much of the path off as possible. For more detailed steps on maintaining ramps, read our blog from last month on How to Maintain a Residential Ramp in Cold Weather.
Do you have any suggestions you would give to caregivers this winter?
Comment below! We hope these tips come in handy as you take care of your loved one and yourself.