The Polar Vortex and Senior Safety

By January 31, 2019 September 5th, 2019 Blog

“How cold is it in the Upper Midwest today? It’s so cold that if you toss boiling hot water in the air, it may turn to ice crystals. (Be careful out there and always check which way the wind is blowing, folks. People tend to scald themselves doing this.)*”


Thank you National Public Radio (NPR) for that interesting fact and safety warning.

As the polar vortex dipped south this week turning mid America into an ice block, I began to worry about family and friends who live in the areas being affected. Weather experts warn us that even a few minutes of exposure in these extremely low temperatures can result in frostbite and hypothermia.

Of particular concern is our senior population. The National Institute on Aging says older adults lose body heat faster than young people. What may be ok for some of us, could be very dangerous for seniors. It is recommended the inside temperature for seniors should be no lower than 68°F.

If you are a senior and your home heater fails causing the temperature indoors to drop to an unsafe level, you need to get help. If you have a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), also known as a medical alert system or help button, you can press the button to get help.

Being too cold can lead to a medical emergency – don’t be afraid to press that button. Your service’s emergency operator can call a local responder (family or friend who live nearby and can help you) or dispatch emergency help to your home.

If you have a senior family member who lives in areas with extreme weather events such as the polar vortex, you should consider getting them a PERS.

The seniors in my family use MobileHelp. I called to make sure they are wearing their button, that the heat is set appropriately and there is plenty of food in the house so they don’t have to venture out.

Don’t forget to check up on your loved ones!

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