Care is a powerful and broad word that, as a concept, can be applied to a phrase to convey many implications. This is why we stick to our slogan of “Care.” As vaguely ambiguous as this one-word phrase may be, it’s the many ways in which it can be interpreted. It’s not so that we can leave people puzzled as to who we are and what we do, but rather to show the clarity with which we operate, focus in providing our services, first priority in any situation and focal point in any conversations, perspectives, debates or news we take part in or convey. It’s for this reason that we know you won’t be surprised that we want to ensure our Care Workers are always informed on how to stay alert, safe and take care of themselves so that they can provide the excellent service that we are known for.
Following an article, we produced back in October on how to “Prepare For The Big Freeze!”, we wanted to make sure that our carers also had some advice on both how to stay warm, safe and focused as well as what to look for in others’ well-being whilst out out workers.
Wearing a coat and wrapping yourself in as many hoodies and scarves as you can may sound like a quick fix (and is somewhat recommended),
but there are some handy tips to assist you in ensuring you can stay cosy on the go! (…without walking round like a cocoon).
We are not fans of the notion that anyone should ever skip breakfast as it is important to maintain a healthy, nutritious and consistent diet. Missing breakfast means that you start your day, after hours of sleeping, with little to no energy. By running on empty you are not only likely snack more, but also feel the urge to either eat lunch earlier or create a knock-on-effect that leaves you hungry all evening (even after dinner!).
Now that we have lectured you on your general dietary habits…we want you to know that breakfast can actually help keep you warm throughout the day!
No, we aren’t asking you to pour warm porridge into your pockets (although this would kill two birds with one stone) but eating porridge and other whole grains; such as oats, brown rice and millet, is the best way to ensure you keep warm. This is because they are “complex carbohydrates”.
To keep warm, the body needs to ‘burn’ food. Complex carbohydrates burn the slowest for longest and are therefore best!
Although this isn’t something you will need to be told (probably because you were always told as a child when your parents nagged you to fasten your coat), but layers really do make all the difference. Knowing this however is only half of the truth, as where you wrap up and what you use to do so are the valuable points to take note of!
Whilst there are always those word of mouth tips and tricks (as well as the people who swear by them), it’s generally agreed upon that multiple layers provide better heat retention than a single yet thicker layer. Obviously, this refers to several layers that roughly match the single layer in question.
If you are willing to splash your cash a little, there is always the option to invest in some higher end wear. This refers to brands well known for high quality materials, clothing used or recommended by professionals who regularly deal with colder climates and newer technologies and material such as lightweight goose feather coats.
Caring for others who may be unwell/more susceptible to illness, it is important that you maintain a strong and healthy immune system…so, wrap up!
Hand Warmers, Thermals & Scarves…
The neck is a prime location for pulse points. This isn’t just a great tit-bit of information, as this means that the neck emits and loses heat very quickly and so scarves are crucial to keeping warm.
The previous reason for wearing a scarf to keep your neck warm (of all things?!) won’t come as a surprise for many, but another tip that you can take advantage of when wrapped up with one is to loosely cover around your mouth when outdoors. A seemingly simple adjustment, this isn’t intended to make you look like a bandit, but rather utilise the warmth from your breathing. This both raises and insulates the temperature in the immediate area around the mouth, but also means that the air you breathe in is a little warmer maintaining your core body temperature more easily.
Thermal socks are brilliant for keeping warm as the feet and hands are usually the coldest parts of the body and, after the head, are the biggest criminals of emitting and wasting the body’s heat. Because of this, gloves are also incredibly effective, but for those who find gloves tend to stop them from using their hands properly, hand warmers are ideal as thinner more manoeuvrable gloves can be worn whilst still maintaining heat either in the gloves or in your pockets!
No, we don’t think that long-johns are fashionable nor do we want to make you look like you’re mining for gold in the wild west (although you would look cool in dungarees), but we are pointing out that this seemingly forgotten piece of apparel is, actually, vastly underrated! If, like the gentleman writing this (hello by the way), you hate the cold weather and don’t ever seem to stay warm, long-johns are an amazing way to double up on body warmth as they insulate you for as long as you wear them. This means that, unlike a coat or jumper, you can wear them under your uniform both inside and outside, i.e. all day!
So, now you’re warm and ready to go right? Wrong! This is the mistake we all make as one day the council has gritted the roads for no reason and the next day it’s icy. The issue is that now the council has cleared the main roads, you need a car to drive on them…well you already have one, but that one is iced over and like a fridge inside!
Keeping Your Car Warm
Avoid Car Issues
Whether you’re the kind of person who de-ices the whole car, scoops out all the snow and waits in a few minutes their car before setting off or the type to get up an hour early just to start the car and leave it running until you leave, you will inevitably have your own way of defrosting your car…but what if this was an easier, structured and more efficient process?
In terms of suggestions for technical improvements and checks:
- Warm the engine with a block heater – This does require instillation from an engineer, but if your vehicle is prone to cold engine issues is a must buy!
- Maintain the battery temperatures – Batteries on vehicles can struggle to create the same chemical reaction used to create their energy when in cold weather. Whilst it may sound over the top, many people swear by removing their car battery and keeping it indoors overnight. This ensures that the battery is ready for the next day.
- Replace your windshield wipers and wiper fluid – Being able to see, especially with changing weather conditions, is pretty important…need we say more?
- Check your tyre pressure and consider snow tyre – Nothing is more frustrating than being stranded on the road when everything, but a tyre , is working absolutely fine.
- Park indoors – Not everyone has access to an indoor parking space, but even a somewhat sheltered can help to prevent issues from occurring.
- Use thinner oil, fuel conditioner or gas line antifreeze with fuel stabiliser.
- Other Preventative Tools – There is a huge range of products that state they can prevent car issues caused by low temperatures (and some of them actually work?!).
These options simply enhance your vehicle’s performance and/or prevent issues caused by low temperatures.
Setting Off When Stuck In The Snow
Should you be unable to avoid the above from happening, there is an easy and structured way to ensure you can still set off when your car doesn’t seem to want to budge or is just frozen in place:
- Minimise electrical drain on the battery – Such as switching the inside car light, radio and phone charger off.
- Turn the key to start and hold it for up to 10 seconds – Ensure not to overcook the engine though.
- Let the battery recover if the car fails to start – Then try again a few more times and consult the owner’s manual if this persists.
Sometimes, however, your engine isn’t the issue. Usually an issue in older models, extremely cold weather can cause the battery to ‘die’. This simply means it either needs to be jump-started. You can of course prevent the battery and engine warm/prepared using the tips above.
Drive Carefully Around Ice
The AAA Exchange (a not-for-profit organisation of over 95 million motor clubs in the US) has a clear set guide for winter driving tips:
- Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on journeys reduces driving risks – This should always be the case when driving and if there is ever a time that you will need to be even more alert than usual encase any unusual or unexpected issues occur in changing weather conditions.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
- Never mix radial tyre with other tire types.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up. – It is even suggested that you keep your fuel tank full to avoid gas line freeze up even more so.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand) – It sounds silly to suggest that anyone would even try this, but they have, and it was obviously not the best idea they have had. Please don’t try this!
- Always look and steer where you want to go – Whilst this is the usually suggested method of performing this manoeuvre, even a confident driver is at risk of danger from bad weather and even other drivers.
Deal With Any Weather Related Issues On The Road
- Don’t panic – Easy to suggest but hard to do, staying calm is vital! Don’t freeze up and don’t over compensate, just relax and react.
- Keep your hands on the wheel – Although you have lost control of the vehicle, you MUST keep your hands on the wheel. At some point you will regain some control and the only way to use this is to be ready with hands on the wheel.
- Keep your eyes open – Hands on the wheel are useless if your immediate reaction when scared or panicking is to close your eyes. Keep observant, focused and ready.
- Shift into neutral – Even with ought you yourself applying pressure to the acceleration, as car to will receive power to its wheels if moving whilst in gear. Putting your car into neutral will remove this additional power making gaining control of the vehicle a little easier.
- Steer into the skid – regardless of why or how your vehicle is spinning/drifting out of control, in nearly all situations the best thing to do is to steer in the same direction that the back of your vehicle is moving in.
- Stopping isn’t stopping – Stopping the lack of control is the most important thing to focus on. Stopping the car is harder and more impractical than regaining control of the vehicle. Once you have regained control you can then safely slowdown and stop away from other traffic.
- Exit when safe to do so – only when away from traffic, the vehicle is still, and you have ensured that you are away from the are you lost control of your vehicle at (so that you are safely distanced others who may have the same issues) should you exit your vehicle.
Even if control of the vehicle can’t be regained, following the above procedures and advice is still vital as you can reduce the vehicle’s damage to others and the surrounding area and avoid further danger.
Care In The Cold
So, you are warm, your car is ready; you are driving aware and ready for the worst-case scenario. All set and ready to go, but don’t forget that you are there to provide the best care there is to all of our clients, so how do you know if they are OK in the worst the weather has to offer?
The Clients Home
When arriving to client’s home you will always want to triple check that they aren’t in if you can’t contact them or gain access to their property, then contact the office and follow the usual procedure. Just remember that in the winter you must consider the possibility that your client may be too ill or injured to hear you or to answer the door.
Sticking to the care plan is a must; however, we do have a duty of care and should use our initiative (IF AUTHORISED TO DO SO). If you arrive at a client’s home and it seems too cold, heating is broken ,or they seem far too cold, you must report it to the office as soon as possible.
Obviously small requests to veer away from the care plan for the comfort of the clients, such as needing a blanket or a hot water bottle, are fine to carry out but you must always follow all our company rules and regulations.
If you are ever unsure of what to do or what not to do, you can always call our office and we will support you to help the client in any way we can.
Risks Of The Cold
As well as general discomfort, at temperatures below 8oC the winter seasons can increase some people’s risk of:
- heart attack
- falls and injuries
Always take extra care to analyse the condition of clients and always report any changes to the head office.
Following this guide won’t make terrible weather conditions completely safe but should go a long way in preventing unnecessary incidents from causing any danger to or around you. If you ever need further advice any issues you may face (weather or otherwise), then you can always call the head office on: 01227 469 960