Our standard approaches for emergency water during a storm may increase risks to our seniors. The winter storm season approaches again. This year, we also enter the season under threat of COVID-19. COVID brings new risks as we prepare for emergencies, and our standard methods also increase risks to seniors. How our elderly prepare for storms can increase elderly fall prevention.
More Want to Age in Place—May Need to be Better Prepared
- Falls in adults aged 65+ are the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips
- More than 1 out of 4 seniors fall each year. 80% of elderly falls occur in the bathroom
- 50% of falls are due to home environmental causes (slippery floors, etc)
- Filling sinks and tubs for emergency water may increase the risk of falls
- Falling once doubles your chances of falling again
According to AARP, more than 76% of those over age 65 want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Studies show “aging-in-place” seniors with home healthcare services get better treatment, respond better to treatment, recover faster from treatment, and are happier at home than in an assisted living facility. In most cases, the cost of home healthcare is actually markedly cheaper as well. But to age in place safely, seniors must prepare better to reduce the risk of elderly falls.
Our Seniors More Likely to Fall
Falls in the elderly statistics are eye-opening. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), more than one out of four elderly fall each year. Falling once also doubles your chances of falling again. Aging.com’s fact sheet shows falls by adults aged 65+ are the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips. Additionally, 80% of the elderly falls occur in the bathroom with slippery floors a main culprit. Even below age 65, we all know how slippery the bottom of a bathtub can be, and who hasn’t slipped on a wet floor tile?
Filling Sinks and Tubs Increases Risks
For many, preparing for a major storm means having a supply of bottled water or filling sinks and tubs with water before the storm. But, current circumstances may make it harder to find bottled water and finding emergency water may come with the threat of contracting COVID. Carrying water from sinks and tubs can further increase the threat of severe falls in the bathroom. How you prepare can increase the risk of falling.
Water More Important to Elderly—Prepare Wisely
As we grow older, water is more important to us. We dehydrate quicker, and the consequences of dehydration are more severe. But water is also important for sanitation and hygiene. We are at greater risk of infection and need to maintain a clean body even during severe weather events. Our old ways of preparing for emergency water before a storm may not be the best way.
Bottled water has, unfortunately, become our preferred approach for storm preparation. But going to the store to buy bottled water during the COVID crisis raises the risk of infection; a particular threat to the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Additionally, bottled water may once again become in short supply. As it was early in the stages of the COVID crisis, toilet paper is now becoming almost impossible to find. Bottled water will likely follow the same path.
We all grew up preparing for major storms by filling sinks and tubs with water. Many still do today. But particularly for seniors, this is a very risky approach.
With most falls occurring in the bathroom, lifting water from a sink or tub to flush a toilet or to carry to the kitchen increases the likelihood of spilling water. Spilled water will make the floor slippery, increasing the risk of elderly falls. Additionally, anyone who has bent over a tub of water knows it is an uncomfortable position. Lifting a pan or bucket of water from a tub really moves your center of gravity to a dangerous point.
5 Tips for Preparing For Winter Weather Water During the COVID Crisis
Here are some things to consider as you prepare for severe winter weather conditions:
- If bottled water is your emergency water approach, buy water early and often. If getting to a store is hard, have family or neighbors pick up water for you.
- Preposition water near where you need it. Spilled water makes tiled floors slippery and increases the risk of falls.
- Carry multiple small containers of water rather than one large container. Small containers are lighter and easier to handle, thereby reducing the likelihood of spilling water.
- Use extra caution when pulling water from a tub with a bucket or pan. Bending over a tub to scoop water puts you in a risky position for slipping and can hurt your back.
- Consider a whole-house emergency water system. Battery-powered whole-house emergency water systems like Constant Water eliminate the need to purchase bottled water and to carry water from sinks and tubs during or after the storm. They are environmentally friendly as they eliminate plastic water bottles in our landfills. Constant Water systems are also tax deductible as a Medical Home Improvement.
Healthcare Providers Benefit As Well
If you are a healthcare provider, you know how important water is to your clients and to you. Being without water is a risk to your client. No water also prevents you from provide the quality care they expect and your strive to provide. Having to carry water to provide your loving care can be hard on you and put you at risk as well.
Elderly falls are serious. Our weather forecasters work hard to predict the coming weather. But, Mother Nature doesn’t watch the forecast. The risk of elderly falls can be reduced by properly preparing for winter storms well before the weather people forecast bad weather.