Friday, April 5, 2019

Winter Snowstorms & Impact on Elders

This isn't so much a news item for you as it is me thinking out loud about how the weather can impact the lives of elders. Living in Florida (and far enough South in Florida that frost is something we read about happening to others), absent a big weather event (think hurricane or tornado) we don't have to deal with the aftermath of significant winter weather events. 

What got me thinking about this was the bomb cyclone from a few weeks ago. I was out in Colorado when it was moving through and although on the fringes of the storm, it was enough.  The weathercasters were urging people to stay indoors and some folks lost power for a while.  After the storm passed, the state and local DOT did amazing jobs clearing the roads, and businesses cleared their drives and sidewalks. But not every property owner seemed to be as diligent about doing this. And there is was the melt and freeze cycles of the day, slush and puddles as the temperatures rose, turning to sheets of ice at nights and in the mornings.   This situation is possible in any location that gets snow or even rain. 

It made me think about navigating the aftermath of weather events, especially if we are looking toward making communities more livable and more walkable.  What help is available for older persons who can get out and about, but shouldn't be out and about walking on icy sidewalks  (really I guess, who should?). How do municipalities get businesses and property owners to clear sidewalks and driveways? What help is available to survive the cold during a power outage? has helpful info about dealing with snowstorms (as well as other types of disasters). Google elderly and snowstorm and you will find lots of wonderful stories about neighbors helping elders .  Area Agencies on Aging are always a good start for info as well as Senior Centers.

Once the storm went through and we went outside, let me tell you the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful! The folks in Colorado are masterful at handling these snow events and I have no doubt that those who live there  know how to navigate Mother Nature's events (just like we in Florida know how to deal with the humidity!) The mother of one of my dearest friends lives there and just shrugs it off when I ask her about navigating snow. Or maybe it is simply me, a Floridian, unable to process the concept of living in and navigating weather other than the kind we experience on a daily basis.  Remember-planning ahead is critical. Just like we in Florida have our hurricane kits ready starting June 1, get a "blizzard box" or snowstorm survival kit together!

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