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Stay Safe This Autumn - Tips for Older Adults

Apple orchards, corn mazes, bonfires, and pumpkin carving... autumn is a lovely time of year full of fun and special activities. With all the enjoyment these fall-time activities bring, the season also presents its own set of risks and dangers to beware of and prepare for accordingly. Preparing for autumn is done every year, but it can seem to be a whole new experience each time. As a person ages, they may need to do more preparation than in their younger years, and it is important to remember each task.

House Check-Up

house in autumn with fallen leaves in yardTo prepare the home for fall and winter, it is important to check on some items and to have others help check the items that are not easily maintained by yourself. Things to have looked at include the gutters and any build-up that can cause damage over winter as it overfills. Change the furnace filter and schedule for regular furnace maintenance. Checking the seals on windows or placing plastic window seals over them can save on energy costs and keep you warm all winter long. If you have a fireplace, it should be cleaned, including the chimney, and inspected for blockage before you light your first winter fire.

Other things to look at include ensuring there are mats at each door to remove wet footwear and keep the floor dry. Ensure that ice melt or salt is available near the front door to ensure you can safely leave the house. It is important to check that outdoor lightbulbs are working so the home can be well lit during the darker evenings. If you park in a garage, check that the garage lights are in working order too.

Get Winter Gear Ready

unpacking box of winter clothing Now is the time to make sure you take all your winter hats, coats, gloves or mittens, and winter boots out of their summer storage and prepare them. If you have covers for your boots that have grips to prevent slipping on ice, they should be placed on or near your boots so you can locate them easily when it snows. Having these items prepared in advance can save you time and worry once autumn turns into winter.
It is also an excellent time to get extra blankets washed and ready. Check any space heaters or heated blankets. Make sure the cords are in good shape and that they are intact and ready for use. Any camping trailers or recreational vehicles should be winterized before it is too cold. Then, they can be put in storage or parked appropriately for the winter.

If you cannot shovel your sidewalks and live in a home where it is your responsibility, arrange to have someone clear the sidewalks and driveway for you when it snows. The same goes for leaves! Unraked leaves, especially when wet, can present risks of slipping or tripping. Look for someone to help rake paths and steps to ensure your safety and that of your neighbors if you have a sidewalk. This will ensure your safety and that you will not receive tickets for uncleared sidewalks.

Prepare Your Car

car outside covered in fallen leavesCars and other vehicles also need to bed prepared before winter. They should have an oil change and ensure the gas tank is full. Maintain over half a tank of gas throughout the winter, and ensure washer fluid is rated for the winter.

Include a winter safety kit in your car that has blankets, extra gloves or mittens, kitty litter or salt for ice, and a shovel. Many recommend also keeping water and food in the car, though water will freeze, so it must be an opened, plastic bottle that is not completely full or it will leak or break. Protein or granola bars and crackers are suitable types of foods to have in a car safety kit.

Ensure that any tires have enough tread to be safe for the season, and if you have winter tires, install them before the first snow for the safest transition. As everyone rushes to do their tires last minute, it is hard to get them booked, so doing it early saves time and stress.

Adapt Your Schedule

weekly planner As the days become shorter, there will be less time for safely running errands like grocery shopping and appointments. Plan to do as many of these tasks as possible in the middle of the day. It is better to accomplish these tasks when it is light out and avoid doing them in dark evenings if possible. Mornings will remain dark longer as well, so morning walks may need to begin later, which can affect a daily routine. Adjusting to the new sunrise and sunset times may be one of the more challenging adaptations to make.

If you can arrange delivery for some items, it can save some stress over the winter. Many pharmacies and grocery stores offer delivery, allowing you to have the things you need available when you need them, even if you can't leave the house easily.
Using services such as snow removal and prescription delivery can help ease the stress of winter by limiting the tasks that need to be completed. In addition, there are programs in most cities that offer these services free or at discounted rates for those who need them.

Getting Ready for Holidays

grandmother bringing cooked turkey to table for Thanksgiving dinnerPreparing for autumn also includes getting ready for winter before it is too cold and preparing for the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving may mean a family gathering, so obtaining all the foods you will need for that in advance or delegating the cooking among the family can help make it go smoothly. Stocking up on Halloween candy early can make it easier to find and remove any pressure from last-minute rushes to get candy for handing out. Set up any decorations before the ground is too cold and can not be anchored correctly.

During autumn, the ground is softer, so any Christmas items or decorations can be set up and anchored into the ground. Along with installing any Christmas lights before there is ice, these are safer and easier approaches to decorating for the holidays. You can have your lights up but not turn them on until you are ready. Or, set up anchors for decorations and then add the remaining pieces later as needed.
If you will have gatherings at your home, stock up on non-perishable food items in advance to avoid last-minute shopping trips. Also, ensure that the tables and chairs you need are ready and accessible for the gathering.

Fall is a wonderful time of year. To make the most of it, ensure you take the necessary precautions to avoid injury or other disasters. 

Let us know in the comments below - What's missing from this list that you are thoughtful about every year? 

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