For many Canadian families, the holiday season is synonymous with vacation time. Flying south for warmer surroundings is often on the menu for a lot of winter travellers. For many others, it’s all about taking road trips to be amongst beloved family members and friends. No matter your travel plans, this winter, it is vital that you take safety precautions. This is especially important if you are travelling with older adults.
Here are seven essential winter travel precautions for seniors:
1. Regularly check on the weather.
You just never know when you’re going to peer through your windows and see an abundance of snow falling from the sky. That is, of course, unless you diligently check weather forecasts. Before your trip, be sure to check in on the weather scenario of your destination.
If you’re flying, contact the airline to learn of any layovers. Naturally, unforeseen weather changes can disrupt travel plans, causing delays or cancellations. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing for the forecasted conditions. This includes layers, waterproof outerwear and sturdy footwear. They are all crucial for staying comfortable and safe.
“Knowing the weather is also beneficial in fighting health-related issues,” points out Skymet Weather, “For example, a dust storm can trigger allergies and asthma in many patients. Similarly, many travelers can have problems with heat stress. After knowing the weather, one can plan accordingly by carrying the necessary medicine or skipping traveling altogether.”
2. Consult your healthcare providers before travelling.
Cold weather can exacerbate certain health conditions. Ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date, carrying necessary medications in adequate supply and having copies of prescriptions can help manage health needs away from home. Frigid conditions can sometimes lead to dehydration, which can be exacerbated during travel due to the dry air in airplanes or heated spaces. Seniors should maintain proper hydration and nutrition by carrying water bottles and healthy snacks.
Eating regular, balanced meals is also an essential safety measure. VANTAGE Aging stresses the importance of Vitamin D for good health and a strong immune system. “Because of low sunlight during cold weather months, it can be hard to get a sufficient amount of Vitamin D,” notes their website, “You can balance your diet with Vitamin D-rich foods such as fish, milk, yogurt, orange juice, and oatmeal.”
3. Prioritize safe driving practices.
While practicing safe driving is important all year round, it is especially vital in winter conditions. Ensure that your vehicle is properly maintained, complete with tires that are suitable for winter weather. Practice defensive driving techniques to reduce the risk of accidents on icy or snowy roads. Give our “7 Top Safety Measures For Senior Drivers” blog a read for a more in-depth look into driving safety tips. Consider it the prequel to this blog!
“Make sure your windshield wipers are in proper working order for clearing rain, snow, and ice,” advises Kit Smith on SafeWise.com, “Check fluids and top them off if needed. But remember that windshield wipers can’t do all the work for you. It’s tempting to do the minimum when clearing off your car before winter driving. However, lingering snow and ice pose a hazard to you and other drivers. Before driving, brush snow off the roof, hood, windows, mirrors, and trunk of your vehicle.”
4. Do your best to pack light.
This will cause far less stress on your muscles, protecting you from potential aches and pains. Only carry your essentials in order to reduce the weight of your luggage. Use lightweight, easy-to-handle suitcases or backpacks with wheels to minimize strain while travelling. Essential items such as identification, medications and important documents should be easy for you to access.
Odyssey Traveller recommends the tried-and-true practice of rolling up clothes to maximize your luggage space. “Lay out two or three pieces flatly on top of each other and roll tightly from one end,” instructs their website, “Squeeze air and wrinkles out as you go. This works best with softer fabrics that are less likely to wrinkle, such as cotton and wool. Studier fabrics, such as denim jeans, are better to fold.”
5. Carry a well-stocked emergency kit.
It should include such essentials as a first-aid kit, flashlight, extra medications and contact information for emergency services. Knowing the local emergency numbers at your destination and having a plan in case of unexpected situations can provide peace of mind. Seniors should remain vigilant about personal safety during their travels. This includes staying aware of surroundings, avoiding unfamiliar or poorly lit areas at night and keeping valuables secure. It’s advisable to travel in groups or pairs when exploring new places.
“The first step towards creating an effective emergency medical kit for elderly travellers is to choose a storage space that is easily accessible,” enlightens Senior Helpers, “Consider choosing a container that will easily fit into your suitcase or a small backpack. Many stores sell plastic containers with secure fasteners for such a purpose.”
6. Secure comprehensive travel insurance.
This is essential for seniors travelling during winter. The coverage should include provisions for trip cancellations, medical emergencies and evacuation if necessary. Reviewing policy details to understand coverage limitations and ensuring it meets specific travel needs is imperative.
To minimize risk, seniors should maintain a flexible itinerary and allow ample time for rest. Winter travel can be unpredictable. Unexpected delays or changes might occur. Incorporating downtime into the schedule can help seniors recharge and make the most of their travel experiences.
7. Consider your accessibility and mobility requirements.
Traveling during winter can present additional challenges for seniors with mobility issues. Prioritize accessible accommodations, arrange transportation with adequate mobility support and select destinations with senior-friendly facilities. Doing so can greatly enhance the travel experience.
The Travel Buggy is an ideal choice for travellers with mobility issues. It has a lightweight design, a comfortable and supportive seat and offers effortless manoeuvrability. Not to mention, it is convenient to store, easy to assemble and very affordable. Do you need a stroller that is easy to use during travel? The Travel Buggy is known as the lightest electric wheelchair in the world! It is sure to make your travels more comfortable and enjoyable.
We stock a wide variety of travel mobility power chairs and scooters. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to give the Advantage Home Health Solutions team a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!