COLUMBUS - Weather forecasters predict a large winter storm that has been creating very hazardous conditions to Ohio's south and west will move into our region in the next couple of days. STEADY U Ohio, the state's new older adult falls prevention initiative, reminds all Ohioans that there are very simple steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from slips, trips and falls that could lead to injury and hospitalization.
The most obvious threat for falls during the winter may be ice and snow. To stay safe when the ground beneath you is slippery:
- Wear boots and shoes that fit properly and have soles with bumps and grooves for good traction.
- Slow down. You may want to rush to get out of the conditions, but when you do, you are more likely to lose your balance. Give yourself extra time to get where you're going.
- Make sure steps leading into your home have sturdy handrails that can support you if you slip.
- Watch for slippery surfaces ahead of you. Keep your head up and use your eyes to look down.
- Don't try to walk in more than an inch of snow. Deeper accumulations can cause you to trip.
- Clean up ice and snow tracked indoors and immediately remove wet footwear.
- When in doubt, ask for help.
Wintry weather can contribute to falls in other ways, such as:
- Reduced activity - Wintry conditions outside may cause you to remain inside, which can limit your activity. Stay active all year round by engaging in exercise that builds strength and balance.
- Tripping hazards - Things we do to keep our homes warm in winter can create tripping hazards. Keep space heaters and blankets out of walkways. If you must use throw rugs on cold floors, secure them to the floor with tape.
- Winter clothing - Coats, gloves, hats and other winter clothing are designed to keep us warm, but items that are bulky, don't fit well or could catch on objects can increase your risk of falling.
- Power outages - Ice and snow can cause the power to go out, which can limit your ability to see obstacles.
More winter weather falls prevention tips are available online at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
For a variety of reasons, older adults may have a harder time adjusting during extreme conditions than younger people do. The Ohio Department of Aging encourages all Ohioans to check in on older neighbors and loved ones during severe weather to ensure that they have the resources they need to stay safe and healthy.
Do a risk assessment:
- Does he or she depend on oxygen?
- Does he or she need help walking?
- Does he or she need help getting to the bathroom?
- Has he or she fallen?
- Does he or she need medical attention?
Check vital supplies:
- Does he or she have access to clean drinking water?
- Does he or she have the ability to cook and safely store food?
- Does he or she have access to healthy, non-perishable food that can be prepared without electricity?
- Does he or she have adequate means to keep the temperature in the home in a comfortable range?
- Does he or she have access to an adequate supply of any prescription or over-the-counter medications to maintain his or her health?
- Can he or she safely store and access his or her medications (some may need to be refrigerated or stored on ice)?
Evaluate access to help:
- Does he or she have access to a phone that works, even if the power goes out (cordless phones and voice-over-IP service may not work during a power outage)?
- If he or she has a cell phone for emergencies, is the phone sufficiently charged?
- Instead of asking, "do you have someone to call if you need help?" questions such as, "show me how you would call your daughter if you need her to come help" will be more effective.
More tips and resources for checking on loved ones and friends are available on the department's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentOfAging.
About STEADY U Ohio - Falls are an epidemic among our elders and are the number one cause of injuries leading to ER visits, hospital stays and deaths in Ohioans age 65-plus. STEADY U Ohio is a comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Aging, and supported by Ohio government and state business partners to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify opportunities for new initiatives and coordinate a statewide educational campaign to bring falls prevention to the forefront of planning for individuals, families, health care providers, business and community leaders and all Ohioans. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners 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, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.
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