Public asked to support seniors during extreme cold weather conditions

WITH the potential for heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures forecasted on B.C.’s south coast in the coming days, BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) and EngAge BC is reminding everyone to consider the needs of seniors and others with mobility challenges during these extreme weather conditions.

“We want to raise public awareness on this important matter of public safety – and keep our sidewalks cleared of snow and ice in front of homes and businesses,” said Terry Lake, BCCPA and EngAge BC CEO. “It even goes beyond looking after a few metres in front of your property, but also taking a few minutes to help a neighbour with theirs as well.”

Home and business property owners are reminded of their obligation to keep their sidewalks cleared and free of icy surfaces, and to do so on a timely basis each day. Many municipalities have bylaws that require the clearing of snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks that surround their property by 10 a.m. following a snowfall, seven days a week.

Shoveling and salting of sidewalks or pathways into the home of an elderly neighbour or someone with mobility or health challenges will help reduce the possibility of slips and falls.

“Thousands of B.C. seniors rely upon home support visits,” said Lake. “Workforce injuries from falls are commonplace with snow and icy conditions, which may deprive someone of a home support appointment for important daily needs such as food or medicines.”

BCCPA is also appealing to the public to support their fellow community members where possible. The City of Vancouver, for example, has the Snow Angel program to sign up volunteers to clear walks.

Last week, BCCPA relaunched its annual “Gift of Time” campaign to remind the public of the impact of social isolation during the winter holiday season. It provides another important motivation for supporting seniors at this time of year.

“Social isolation can be especially devastating for seniors during the holiday season,” said Lake. “If you have a neighbour or a loved one that might be impacted by the cold weather, take a moment to contact them. They will greatly appreciate that you did.”