Snow and ice is hazardous for the elderly

Whether you’re 6 or 60, there is something pretty exciting about waking up to the world being blanketed in a thick layer of powdery snow. However, it’s not all fun and games as the treacherous snow and ice poses a real hazard for people of all ages, and the older you get the harder it is to recover from trips and falls.

Elderly gentleman slips on snow and ice
The elderly are at risk from snow and ice

Every year, thousands of people are injured with figures showing that there were 2,919 admissions to hospital in 2014/2015 due to people falling on snow and ice.*

Of course the consequences of a fall are a lot more serious for the elderly. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers some advice on how older people can avoid falls in slippery conditions:

  • Try to minimise the need to go out. Ask friends or neighbours to shop for you or take you to where you need to go
  • If you do decide to go out when there’s snow and ice, take time to think what you can do to reduce the risk of a fall
  • Where possible, plan a safe route from your home to where you are going, so as to avoid slopes, steps and areas that have not been cleared or gritted
  • Don’t take short cuts through areas where the slipping hazards are greater
  • Ask a friend or neighbour to clear a safe path from your front door
  • Wear proper footwear for better traction on slippery surfaces. Consider fitting anti-slip crampons
  • Consider using a stick or better still, a walking pole and take slow, small steps. Try not to hurry and give yourself more time to get from A to B so you do not rush
  • Use rails or other stable objects that you can hold on to
  • If possible, wear extra layers to protect the more vulnerable parts of your body like your head, neck and spine if you do fall
  • Wipe your feet well when entering buildings
  • In public places, always report unsafe conditions so other people do not get hurt

Hypothermia

Cold weather also puts the elderly at particular risk of hypothermia (when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees). To avoid this, try to move about at regular intervals, drink plenty of hot drinks and eat regularly. Wearing several layers of thin clothing, rather than one thick layer, can also help to reduce the risk.

Wrapped in blanket
Hypothermia is very risky for the elderly

Help is at hand

An IndePENDANT panic button from Smart Home Protection can help keep the elderly safer in their home. Worn around the wrist or the neck, the button summons immediate assistance should help be needed, and it works within a 250 metre radius**, meaning that a trip or a fall on snow and ice in the garden or near the home can be dealt with quickly and effectively.

* Figures taken from Hospital Episode Statistics for England
** 250 metres in direct line of sight