Five Ways to Stay Safe in Winter

Use these tips to avoid injuries and illnesses when temperatures drop

Senior man shoveling

Winter brings a handful of health hazards. Stay safe this season with tips from Richard Besdine, M.D., director of Geriatrics at Brown University. 

Prevent slips and falls
Slick conditions outdoors and tripping risks indoors can lead to dangerous falls. Strengthening your legs and working on your balance can help you stay steady on your feet, Dr. Besdine says. Do simple exercises at home or look for free fitness classes in your community. SilverSneakers®, a free fitness program, offers senior-specific workout classes and has plenty of workout videos you can follow along with from the comfort of your home.

Enjoy social activities
It may seem best to stay home all winter, but isolation can lead to poor health, says Dr. Besdine. Spending time with others can help you stay active and boost your mood. Plan fun, low-cost outings with family or friends. If you can’t leave home, ask a neighbor or relative to visit.

Keep yourself warm
Older adults are at a higher risk of hypothermia than younger adults. When indoors, keep your thermostat at a comfortable temperature and wear a sweater. If you go outdoors, wear loose layers, and cover up with a hat, coat, and gloves. And, try to avoid going outdoors on particularly cold or windy days.

Take extra care if you have a condition
Cold weather can cause serious problems for people with heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, or other conditions, Dr. Besdine says. Monitor your symptoms and report any changes to your doctor. Make sure you have a supply of prescription medications.

Check before shoveling
Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to shovel. If you have a heart condition or your doctor recommends you avoid shoveling, ask a neighbor or family member to assist you. Keeping your walkways shoveled will help reduce the risk of potential falls from icy conditions. 

The SilverSneakers fitness program is provided by Tivity Health, Inc., an independent company. ©2020. All rights reserved. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new type of exercise.