The slippery and wet conditions outside pose safety risks for everyone, but especially seniors who are at higher risk of falls and emergencies.
However, there are some things seniors can do stay safe this winter.
Scott Wilkinson, assistant chief of community risk reduction with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS), said one thing that is important for seniors is to try and avoid trips and falls.
“We have a lot of snow, we have ice out there,” he said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Friday.
Wilkinson encourages seniors to stay active, but says it’s helpful if they wear the proper footwear, use railings, walk with a friend, bring a cellphone so they can call for help if needed, and be aware of the snow and ice on walkways.
This week saw Winnipeg’s first major snowfall of the season, which means that people will be outside shovelling.
Wilkinson said everyone, but especially seniors, should use caution when shovelling snow. He recommends that seniors lift small amounts of snow, take breaks, use the proper ergonomics and try not to twist, and wear the appropriate footwear.
“Also, let somebody know you’re shovelling and when you’re done in the event that there is an incident, so great caution,” he said.
“The best thing you can do is find a young person nearby who’s willing to do it for you.”
Wilkinson also encourages seniors to have an emergency response information kit (E.R.I.K). These are kits that help emergency responders in situations where a patient may not be able to communicate their conditions, medical history or allergies.
The E.R.I.K contains a completed health information form, which provides emergency responders with details including your name, address, health card number, next of kin, family physician, medications and medical history.
The E.R.I.K also contains space for your health care directive, information about how to register intent to be a donor with Manitoba’s online organ and tissue donor registry, and a sticker for the front entrance of your home so paramedics know to look for it.
Once completed, the kit can be put on your fridge door in a magnetized holder
“It’s very convenient. It’s available through many of the different seniors and community organizations through the fire paramedic service and Shared Health,” Wilkinson said.
“We highly recommend that. It covers your medical history and allergies in the event that you can’t communicate for yourself.”
Wilkinson also explained it’s important to call 911 when experiencing acute life-threatening emergencies, but if you are dealing with non-acute and non-emergency issues it’s best to call Health Links, visit your family doctor or go to a walk-in clinic.
“We always encourage people to call 911 in the event of an emergency, but it’s just to use that discretion if it’s something that is not urgent so we don’t overuse our emergency system, including our ambulance staff for WFPS and also our hospital emergency rooms,” he said.
– With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube.
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