WHEN WINTER WEATHER STRIKES – ARE YOU PREPARED?

By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects*

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, exposure to the cold—whether indoors or outside—can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are most at risk, but anyone can be affected.

Be safe and be prepared for hazards associated with extremely cold weather.

Winter Weather Prep Tips:

Have a winter survival kit in your home that consists of:

  • Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned foods and dried fruits. If you have young children, don’t forget baby food and formula.
  • Water stored in clean containers or bottled water. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 5 gallons per person on hand in case pipes freeze or rupture.
  • Medicines that any family member may need.

Remember, if your home is isolated, stock up on additional food, water and medicine.

Have an emergency supply list. Some handy and essential items to include:

  • an alternate way to heat your home during a power failure
  • blankets
  • matches
  • fire extinguisher
  • flashlight or battery-powered lantern and extra batteries
  • battery-powered radio and clock/watch
  • non-electric can opener
  • snow shovel
  • rock salt
  • special need items (diapers, hearing aid batteries, medications etc.)

Your ability to feel a change of temperature decreases with age, and older people are susceptible to health problems caused by cold. If you are 65 years of age or older, check the temperature of your home often during winter months. If a warm, indoor temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room. Provide warm clothing for infants and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If a warm indoor temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

If you are using a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater, always install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Heat your home safely!

Conserve heat. Keep as much heat as possible in your home. Close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels/rags in cracks under doors, close drapes, cover windows with any extra blankets at night.
Dress warmly and stay dry. Do not ignore shivering—it is an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a sign to return indoors.
Avoid exertion. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have to work outside, dress warmly and work slowly.
Eat and drink wisely. Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
Listen to weather forecasts regularly. Weather forecasters often give several days’ notice when impending cold weather is approaching. Check your emergency supplies when periods of extreme cold are predicted.

GET PREPARED! DON’T BE LEFT OUT IN THE COLD!

Excerpts from the CDC Extreme Cold Prevention Guide

*Pam Gennings has a Bachelor’s of Arts and has worked in the field of Geriatric Social Work and Care Coordination for more than 30 years. She started working for Oxford HealthCare in 1993. During the course of her career she has helped thousands of people find resources to remain in their homes as well as provided guidance to families that were facing difficulties with their aging loved ones.

Before My Family Recognized the Emergency, Lifeline Came to the Rescue

By Pam Gennings

A recent blog post on our website Don’t Slip and Fall: Steps to Staying Safe encouraged readers to learn more about Lifeline Emergency Response if they, or a loved one, were at risk of falling. Recently, my family personally experienced the benefits of Lifeline. I am sharing our story to encourage those who are at risk of falls to consider Lifeline.

My sister-in-law Kathleen is 80 years old and has had Lifeline for a few years. She lives with her daughter Becky, but Becky can’t be available all the time.

Because of some health issues, our family encouraged Kathleen to get Lifeline for a sense of security when she was home alone. Thankfully, even after Becky retired and was able to be home more, Kathleen kept her Lifeline.

A few days ago, Kathleen got up at 4 a.m. She entered the bathroom and fell, cutting her hand and chin. Due to blood thinner medication, she started bleeding heavily. Kathleen called for Becky who was asleep in her downstairs bedroom. Becky could not hear her. Fortunately, Kathleen had her Lifeline button around her neck, and she pressed it.

Lifeline called Becky’s cell phone, but it was turned off. Unable to reach Becky, Lifeline called a neighbor who not only answered, but also had a key to Kathleen’s house.

When the neighbor entered, she found Kathleen on the floor, bleeding and saying her leg hurt. She quickly went downstairs to wake Becky. Unable to get Kathleen off the floor, they called 911.

Paramedics arrived and took Kathleen to the hospital where she received stitches in her hand and found out she had broken her hip.

Without Lifeline Emergency Response, Kathleen could have been on the floor for several hours suffering in pain and bleeding. Our family is so grateful for Lifeline. Becky is also upgrading her mother’s basic Lifeline service to include AutoAlert that detects a fall and automatically calls for help.

What happened to Kathleen could happen in any family. If you, or someone you know, are at risk of falling I encourage you to learn more about Oxford’s Lifeline Emergency Response System.

Oxford HealthCare Named Best of the Ozarks by Springfield News-Leader

Oxford HealthCare was recently honored with the Springfield News-Leader’s Best of the Ozarks awards.

For the 13th consecutive year, Oxford HealthCare was recognized as the Best Home Health Care Agency in the Springfield News-Leader’s Best of the Ozarks survey.

Committed to being the leading home care provider in southwest Missouri, Oxford is the only home health care agency to receive the award since the beginning of the survey.

Oxford HealthCare also won Best Hospice Agency for the fifth year in a row. Oxford provides the only full service hospice and palliative care program in the area.

Finding the right care to remain independent at home is an important choice. Thank you to everyone who voted us as Best of the Ozarks, and thank you to the physicians, patients and families that trust Oxford every day for the care they need.

Best of the Ozarks 2013

Oxford HealthCare was named Best Home Health Care Agency for the 12th consecutive year in the Springfield News-Leader’s Best of the Ozarks survey. Oxford is the only home care agency to receive the award since the inception of the poll. Oxford HealthCare Hospice was also named Best Hospice Agency for the fourth year in a row. This is a great honor for Oxford’s young hospice program, which is the only comprehensive hospice and palliative care program in the area. It is a privilege to care for people in their homes, and we thank everyone for their support of Oxford.