June 21, 2024

Trees were covered by the snow. Photo by Madalyn Wood.

Remember to check on elderly neighbors and loved ones when the temperatures drop. Photo by Madalyn Wood.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Forecasters are predicting continued frigid temperatures and very cold wind chills across Ohio. Current temperatures are well below average for this time of year, with single-digit lows and negative wind-chill readings.
“Older adults are at increased risk for complications from conditions including snow, ice, bitter cold and more. Factors like age-related changes and medication side effects can intensify the impact,” said Beverley Laubert, Interim Director of the department. “Extremely cold temperatures equal severe weather, and we ask all Ohioans to check on older loved ones, neighbors and friends during this and other severe weather.”

Check on your neighbors

Before, during and after severe winter conditions, check in on older loved ones, friends and neighbors to ensure that they are okay and have the resources they need to remain safe and healthy.

• Do they need medical attention? Have they fallen? Are they staying warm enough? Are they taking their medicines as prescribed?

• Do they have safe food and water? Are they eating and drinking regularly?

• Is the temperature in their home comfortable? Do they have safe means to heat the home if temperatures continue to fall? Does their water heater work?

• Whom will they call if they need help? Do they have access to a phone that will work without power or landline service? If they don’t, then looking at a cell phone that is easy-to-use should be high on the priority list to allow them to get in contact with emergency services if needed.

Be aware that confusion, disorientation and irritability can be symptoms of conditions such as dehydration, stress and fatigue. If someone appears ill or is injured, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Be prepared

All Ohioans should have a winter preparedness plan that enables them to remain in place for three days if they become unable to leave their homes due to weather conditions. Each household should have an emergency kit that contains, at a minimum, a battery operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, a loud whistle or bell, food you can open and prepare easily, water (one gallon per person per day), extra blankets and a first aid kit.

Older adults may have a few additional considerations:

• A backup supply of daily medicines and the means to store them properly;

• Ready access to medical equipment and assistive devices (e.g., canes, walkers, wheelchairs, lifts, oxygen tanks, etc.) as well as spare batteries and non-powered options.

• A safe place to go if it becomes unsafe to stay in your home (e.g., public shelter, friend’s or neighbor’s house) and a plan for getting there.

• Instructions for rescue personnel to help you relocate safely and quickly in an emergency.

Your preparation should also include a plan for safely keeping the temperature in your home comfortable. Use only space heaters that have been tested and certified to the latest safety standards, and do not leave a space heater unattended. Never use a kitchen stove or any other appliance not designed to heat your home for that purpose.

Accordingly, if there are any gas appliances in your home then it strongly recommended that you make sure that these appliances are in working order. You can learn more about what to do if you are experiencing any issues with your gas appliances here: sharpplumbing.com/services/gas-fitting/.

That is not all though. Similarly, if you have a water heater, make sure that it’s working properly. If it’s not, it’s time to check out a website like siriuspac.com/heater-replacement/ to see what your options are. No one deserves to be in a cold house this winter, especially when the temperatures are getting so low.

Wintry precipitation, such as snow and freezing rain, also increases the risk of a potentially life-changing fall for older Ohioans. If you must go out in wintry conditions, wear boots or shoes that fit properly and have good traction. Bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see and move freely. Slow down and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. Try to walk only on surfaces that have been cleared and treated for ice and snow. Use handrails whenever possible. When in doubt, ask for help.

Find help in your community

The Department of Aging works with the state’s 12 area agencies on aging to make sure that each community has a plan for assisting older adults during weather emergencies. Your area agency can also help you identify resources, such as energy assistance, chore service and minor home repairs that can help you stay warm and safe this winter. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.

More emergency preparedness advice and resources are available on the department’s website: www.aging.ohio.gov/safeathome

Follow the Ohio Department of Aging on Facebook and Twitter for more winter safety information and resources all winter long.

The Department of Aging is a proud member of the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, along with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. Visit www.ema.ohio.gov for information on winter safety and severe weather preparedness.

The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that our elders are respected as vital members of society who continue to grow, thrive and contribute. We collaborate with state agencies and community partners, including area agencies on aging, to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, caregiver support, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.