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Published on December 20, 2015

Be prepared: Winter weather can hit any timeBe prepared: Winter weather can hit any time

As winter approaches, your health and safety and that of your family members should be your top priorities, and there are some important safety tips to help you accomplish that.

At the top of the list are medications, particularly for seniors, said Katrina Cannatelli, Rehabilitation Practice Manager for the VNA of Cape Cod, who works with clients to make sure they are ready for the challenges of winter.

“We stress making sure you have enough medication on hand,” she said. This is especially important for when a snowstorm or power outage occurs and getting to the pharmacy for refills becomes difficult or impossible.

Here are some other tips Cannatelli suggests for winter prep:

  • Clear outside vents that could become clogged with snow, especially dryer vents. This can prevent fires and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide buildup indoors.
  • Never use the kitchen stove for a heat source. Instead, layer up with clothes that are loose-fitting, lightweight, and warm.
  • Have your heating system checked annually.
  • Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries, if needed.
  • Keep a flashlight and battery-operated lamps with a box of backup batteries where you can easily find them. A battery-operated radio will keep you up-to-date on weather and emergencies. If you need assistance with the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the town fire departments will come to your home to test the detectors and change the batteries.
  • Store extra water in clean milk cartons, soda bottles and sinks, especially if you have a well.
  • Stock up on food that doesn’t require cooking.
  • Update your Vial of Life with current medical information. This is a valuable resource that is placed on your refrigerator door and is available at senior centers. It can be crucial in an emergency if you are unable to respond to questions from emergency personnel.
  • Keep a locked box with your house key for emergency personnel to gain access to your home if you are unable to get to the door. The box is located outside next to a door and can be opened with a code. It is helpful to give the code to a family member or friend as well. Some town fire departments will also install a lock box
  • Make sure walkways and driveways are clear. Make arrangements with a neighbor to shovel or hire a snowplow company.