4 Winter Dangers That Can Be Deadly for Seniors

Frigid temperatures are sweeping across much of the U.S., presenting a very real danger to individuals of all ages. But colder temperatures are particularly hazardous for the elderly–not just because of the slippery ice caused by dipping digits.

Here are a few additional dangers to be on the lookout for during blasts of winter weather:

Dehydration: Seniors tend to eat and drink less than their younger counterparts and are thus more likely to become dehydrated. This is especially true during the wintertime when the lack of sun and freezing temperatures further curb the urge to drink. It’s important to encourage your elderly loved one to regularly drink water, even if they are not necessarily thirsty.

Hypothermia: A slower metabolism, sluggish circulation and less body fat are hallmarks of advancing age that significantly increase an older adult’s risk for hypothermia. Indeed, one in every two Americans that dies from hypothermia each year is over 65 and seniors can become hypothermic even if they never venture outside the house. The key to avoiding indoor hypothermia is to never set the thermostat below 65 degrees if the person living in the house is 75 or older.

Space heaters: They may help with warmth, but space heaters can pose safety problems if a senior isn’t careful. If your loved one has an electric heater, inspect the wires and make sure none are damaged or fraying. For gas powered heaters, ensure that your loved one’s carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in significant quantities.

Power outages: Severe ice and snow can cause power outages that may prove deadly to an elderly person who is unprepared. Equip your loved one with a disaster kit that includes enough food and water for several days (each person needs about 3 gallons of water per day), a few days-worth of their medication(s), extra batteries, a weather radio, first-aid essentials and a flashlight.

How to Protect Elders from Frigid Winter Weather originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor


Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa3 years ago

Thank you

Nicole H.
Nicole L4 years ago


Fred h
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you AgingCare.com, for Sharing this!

Dale O.

True, Sonali G as you mention there are some who don't bother to clear the snow or ice off of their cars. Certainly some car roof tops can resemble a leaning tower of Pisa after a blizzard when those not bothering to push the snow off then hop into their vehicles. If the police see that, they will get a ticket as it is a hazard. Big clumps of snow that fly off the roof can land on someone's windshield blocking their vision.

Yes, Merideth G, there are some teens that walk around in the cold winter weather with little in the way of warm clothing because they want to look 'cool' as you mentioned. Most of them don't try it when it's -40 or they will become popsicles in a short time. Some people dress lightly if going a short distance in the car to a store, but if one's car breaks down that can lead to becoming rather cold. Most seniors already know better.

Mickey Clees
Past Member 4 years ago

We lived for nearly 20 years a long way from home. We are in our mid and late 60's and had no friends and only one neighbor that ever cared about whether we were alive or dead. We are disabled and sure could have used a smiling face to at least ask if we needed help. We have now moved back to our home state (MI) in this, the first year of the 'polar vortex' (of which I fear we will see at least a few more before we die. Our son and his wife are only about 2 miles from us and now we feel safe again and not so lonely. Please watch out for the elderly ... they have much wisdom to share and much joy. Thank you for this article.

Kay m.
Kay M4 years ago

Thank you for a good article that we can use right now with this terrible winter polar vortex covering most of our country right now. All people not only seniors need to read this warnings and be prepared for the worst. In order to survive in this kind of weather, you need to know how to dress in layers, stay off the roads if you can, but if you need to go out, pack all emergency supplies in your car, in case you get stranded. and thanks to the over 107 care 2 members that commented on this article. I am going to enjoy reading all of them.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thank you for the good tips. It is important to keep our Seniors safe.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Chaz Berlusconi
Gail Ring4 years ago

thank you for sharing.. always good to know

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago