Stay Safe and Warm at Home this Winter

Active Living Profiles

Lowering your thermostat setting may help lower your home heating costs. But are you cutting corners on your safety?

When it’s cold out, experts say you should set your thermostat no lower than 68 to 70 degrees while you’re at home. Colder homes can be especially dangerous for older adults. In fact, it might surprise you to know that hypothermia — when a person’s body temperature falls too low — doesn’t just happen outdoors. It can happen inside too.

Why are older adults at risk? As you get older, your metabolism slows — and you may lose body heat faster than when you were younger. It may also become harder to feel when you are getting too cold.

Be warm and well

Here are some ideas that may help you stay safe and warm at home without busting your heating budget:

Keep the heat in. Shut the doors to rooms that you don’t use. Close your curtains or blinds when the sun goes down. And plug cracks under the doors with towels or rags.

Layer up. Dress in several loose, warm layers of clothing. Add a coat or blanket if needed. Wear socks and slippers around the house too.

Feed yourself well. Keep your weight up with regular, healthy meals. Your body needs some fat to stay warm. And go easy on caffeine and alcohol.* They can lower your body temperature.

Snuggle up at night. Wear thermal underwear (long johns) for sleeping. And use an extra blanket on your bed. A cap can help keep you warm and cozy too.

Use the buddy system. If you live alone, you may want to ask a loved one or neighbor if they wouldn’t mind calling or stopping by to see how you are doing during a cold spell.

Have an emergency plan. In case a winter storm knocks the power out, it’s good to think about where warming shelters or other warm places are in your community — and know how you’ll get there if needed.

Maintain your heat source. To keep your home heating system running efficiently, have it checked once a year and change any filters regularly.

Use space heaters wisely. Keep them on the ground and at least 3 feet from water or anything that could catch fire. Keep the cords out of the way. And make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector.

*Talk with your doctor if you have questions about alcohol use — or have difficulty drinking in moderation.