by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)
Is there no let up to the cold and snow of this winter of 2014-2015? Very few areas in the country have been spared from the frigid onslaught. Further, I can pretty safely say that most of us are very tired of it and ready for the relief that comes with spring. In the meantime, we have a responsibility to help our seniors keep safe and warm.
Did you know that as we age, our ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions changes. Our bodies tend to lose body heat more quickly and we are more likely to take medications that affect our ability to regulate internal body temperature, making us more susceptible to cold weather. This fact plays a physiological role in the mentality of so many people this time of year; the thought that every winter seems to be more difficult on us than the last!
- Have your furnace, vents, flues and chimneys inspected once a year by a qualified repair person.
- Plug portable space heaters directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) at least three feet from anything that can burn, such as paper, bedding and people. Look for models that have an automatic shut-off.
- Install or replace batteries of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and test to make sure they work.
- Never use an oven to heat the house. This can damage the oven and possibly cause carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.
- Leave the house immediately and call 911 if carbon monoxide is detected or you suspect a gas leak. Carbon monoxide poisoning creates flu-like symptoms and can cause extreme illness or death. Signs of a gas leak include a rotten egg or sulfur-like odor.Heating Assistance Programs
For many, the cost of heating their homes can be a concern, and some face the possibility of having their heating source disconnected or running out of heating fuel when they need it most. For these individuals, the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Winter Crisis Program may be able to help. It provides assistance to eligible households at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to avoid disconnection, get their utility reconnected or get a supply of heating fuel. Call 1-800-282-0880 during regular business hours, or visit www.energyhelp.ohio.gov for more information.Another resource, Ohio’s Winter Reconnect Order Program, allows residential customers, regardless of income, to have their utility service restored or maintained by paying the amount due or $175, whichever is less. If the service has already been disconnected, the customer must pay the $175 and possibly a reconnection fee of no more than $36 to restore service. Customers may use the program once during this winter’s heating season through April 15, 2015. Call the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826 for more information about this and other programs, as well as natural gas safety. Visit www.winterheat.ohio.gov for additional ways to save on home heating bills.If you or an older friend or loved one needs help to remain safely at home any time of the year, contact your area agency on aging for available services, supports and resources. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.If you are warm and safe, take a moment to call or visit an older loved one or neighbor to ensure they have what they need to beat another Ohio winter.
Thanks to the Ohio Department of Aging