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Department of Aging urges older Ohioans, caregivers to prepare for freezing temperatures, wintry conditions

Graphic - prepare for severe weather

Columbus, Ohio – Bitter cold and wintry weather is forecast for most of Ohio over the next few days. Depending on where you live in the state, you may experience frigid wind chills, snow, ice, and other dangerous conditions, including low temperatures near zero degrees beginning Thursday night and continuing through Christmas Day.

Parts of the state may also experience a flash freeze Thursday night, creating the potential for dangerous travel conditions ahead of the holiday weekend.

The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) reminds older Ohioans and caregivers that preparation is key and asks all Ohioans to check on older loved ones and neighbors.

“As we brace for the cold and the possibility of winter weather over the holiday weekend, it is important that we take steps ahead of time to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said ODA Director Ursel J. McElroy. “The Ohio Department of Aging reminds older Ohioans to have an emergency kit in place and a plan of what to do if any trouble were to arise, like losing power. We also ask Ohioans with older neighbors to check in on them this weekend to make sure they are okay. Together, we can all stay safe and enjoy a peaceful and happy holiday.”

Be Prepared
Older Ohioans are encouraged to have an emergency plan and kit that will allow them to remain in place for at least three days if they are unable to safely leave their homes. Your plan and kit should include:

  • A battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries for both of those items; 
  • Food you can open and prepare easily without electricity; 
  • One gallon of water per person, per day; 
  • A first-aid kit and backup supply of medications; 
  • Spare glasses, extra hearing aid batteries, and non-powered alternatives to assistive and medical equipment that may not work without electricity; 
  • A loud horn, whistle, or bell you can use to help first responders locate you; 
  • The names and phone numbers of people you can call for help if you need it; and
  • A plan for where you will go if it is unsafe to remain in your home, and how you will get there.

Ask a reliable family member, friend, or neighbor to visit or call on you in an emergency and agree on a plan for what they should do if they are unable to reach you.

  • Caregivers should plan for the possibility that they will not be able to physically be with their loved ones, or that their loved ones may need to leave their home for safety. 
  • Know the locations of nearby emergency shelters and have a plan for getting your loved one there, especially if you don’t feel safe driving;
  • Identify trusted neighbors or nearby individuals who can act as backup caregivers in a crisis;
  • Let your backup caregiver know about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate with them effectively; and
  • Store a recent photo of your loved one and copies of their medical documents on your phone to share with first responders, if needed.

Check Your Neighbor
Checking in on older friends, relatives, and neighbors during severe weather helps them feel connected and gives you an opportunity to spot potential issues and help them get assistance if they need it.

  • Check their home: Is the temperature comfortable? Are they heating it safely? Is there any damage to their home? Are outdoor walkways clear of snow, ice, and debris?
  • Check their health: Do they appear alert and aware? Have they fallen? Are they taking their medications as prescribed? Do they need medical attention?
  • Check that their daily needs are being met: Do they have safe food and water? Are they able to do what they need to do? Do they have someone to call for support and a reliable way to call for emergency help if they need it?

You can check in on an older loved one or neighbor by telephone, text message, email, video call, or in-person if it is safe to travel.

More Tips and Resources

About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.