Winter Tips for Seniors: Dealing with Snow and Ice

Winter Tips for Seniors Dealing with Snow and Ice

In most parts of Canada, snow and ice are an inevitable part of winter. While both pose their share of hazards, there are things you can do to stay safe and enjoy your time outside.

Snow Removal

It is easy for anyone to underestimate the strength and stamina required to shovel snow. Shovelling raises blood pressure and heart rate, and can even cause heart failure. The potential for back and shoulder injuries is also high. Shovelling is also often done in a hurry, under the stress of having to be somewhere. Rushing through snow removal when your body is not equipped may land you in the nearest emergency room instead.

Snow removal services are available in most populated areas. Though most charge by the season, some will charge by the hour. Check the Better Business Bureau for reviews of companies, or ask neighbours for recommendations. Some municipalities and community organizations may have special programs and subsidies for seniors.

If you absolutely must shovel, make sure to warm up first by starting slowly. Use a small shovel, and push the snow instead of lifting. Keep warm and hydrated, and set a time limit appropriate for your fitness level. Never shovel alone. Let your spouse or a neighbour know you are shovelling, so they can keep an eye out for you.

Ice Accumulation

Freezing rain and near-zero temperature fluctuations can cause ice to form quickly on steps, paths, railings and windshields. Injuries caused by falls, in particular slipping on ice, are among the most common reasons for hospital admissions among seniors.

Before venturing out in slippery conditions, check in with someone who can make sure you reach your destination. Keep a ready supply of road salt or non-clumping cat litter by your front door, and spread it liberally in front of you before proceeding. Check for ice on railings before relying on them. Invest in a pair of ice grippers for your boots, but remember to remove them on hard interior surfaces, where they may become slippery.

Pedestrian Safety on Snow and Ice

If you are out walking in slippery conditions, here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Walk with a buddy, or check in with a friend before and after
  • Stick to well-lit and well-populated routes where you will be helped quickly in the event of a fall
  • Consider using ski or walking poles for support
  • If you use a walker or cane, put retractable spikes on the bottom
  • Wear bright reflective clothing so you are highly visible
  • Use hand- and toe-warmers in your gloves and boots to prevent frostbite
  • Carry a small bag of grit, sand or non-clumping cat litter to sprinkle on ice
  • Keep your knees bent and feet a foot apart for a wider more stable stance when crossing ice

If you or your loved one need practical home support through the winter months, such companion care on walks and outings or support following injury, contact us today for a free in-home assessment of your needs.

For more tips on winter safety for seniors:


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