Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week    |   Hablamos Espanol

5 Winter Safety Tips to Ensure the Safety of Nursing Home Residents

Cold winters in New York leave many individuals vulnerable to the cold, but particularly affect elderly people and those with disabilities. It’s extremely important that nursing home staff take the necessary steps to reduce their residents’ exposure to icy conditions and freezing temperatures. Nursing home staff should be continually keeping a careful eye on their residents who often wander off as well, which is especially important during cold and harsh weather.

Unfortunately, problems like inadequate staff training and understaffing can lead to nursing homes that don’t properly care for their residents in the winter. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes lead to many lost elderly lives each year. If your elderly parent or loved one is being neglected in a nursing home, contact a Dalli & Marino, LLP elder abuse lawyer right away.

Types of Winter Complications and Injuries That Can Occur in Nursing Homes

Extreme cold can be dangerous for anyone, but seniors are especially at risk for complications and hazards related to freezing temperatures. Senior nursing home residents are at risk from a number of cold winter weather complications and injuries, including:


Elderly individuals tend to lose body heat quicker than when they were younger, and body changes due to aging can also make it difficult for you to know it’s getting colder. Cold weather can become hazardous quickly for aging individuals. Doctors refer to this serious issue as hypothermia, which affects nursing home residents every year.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Accumulation of snow and ice around a nursing home facility can easily result in an injury, or even premature death in severe cases. When older nursing home residents are transported between nursing home facilities or when they have to pass between buildings, staff members must give additional consideration to providing dry and slip-proof walking areas. Prompt ice and snow removal from areas like these will help to minimize potential risks.

Electric Blankets and Space Heaters

Items like these can decrease the chill that elderly residents feel, but can also pose a substantial risk of electrocution and fire. For this reason, many nursing homes and insurance policies forbid the use of electric blankets and space heaters. If they are allowed, electric devices like these need to be in good condition and kept away from moisture in order to avoid shock hazards.


In the winter months, reduced levels of thirst, along with a tendency to drink and eat less, means that elderly residents have a higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Nursing home staff need to monitor residents’ intake of fluids in order to ward off potential health risks like these.

5 Winter Safety Tips for Nursing Home Residents

Some winter safety tips that nursing homes can implement to ensure the safety of their residents include:

1. Have Them Dress in Warm Clothing

Cold winter temperatures frequently lead to frostbite and hypothermia. It’s essential that nursing home residents are dressed warmly in order to avoid winter cold-related medical emergencies. Nursing home staff should keep the following in mind:

  • Have residents wear layered clothing
  • Have residents wear warm sockets, a heavy coat, mittens or gloves, and a hat
  • Ensure their any exposed skin is covered when residents go outdoors
  • Have residents use a warm scarf to cover their mouths and keep their lungs protected
  • Ensure residents’ body temperature doesn’t dip below 95 degrees

These are only some ideas that nursing home staff should keep in mind when ensuring their residents’ safety during the cold winter months.

2. Make Preparations for Power Outages

Storms in the wintertime can frequently cause issues with electricity connections that lead to power outages. It can be very helpful to prepare for these types of situations. Some things nursing home staff can do to help their residents is to ensure they:

  • Have flashlights at hand
  • Have a supply of non-perishable foods in the event there’s a prolonged outage
  • Have a battery-powered radio on hand
  • Have all their medication ready and in a place that they can easily access

Also, having an extra supply of blankets on hand during these situations can help. If the heat goes out during a power outage, residents need to stay warm.

3. Take Care of Icy Sidewalks

Snowy roads and sidewalks make accidents and slips very common. This can cause serious injuries such as fractures and head trauma. Nursing home staff should ensure their sidewalks are salted and cleared of ice and snow. They should aim to have residents stay indoors as much as possible and ensure they wear shoes that have good traction and non-skid soles.

4. Keep an Eye on Heating Appliances

Electric blankets, space heaters, and other types of heat sources may help keep residents warm and cozy in cold temperatures, but they need to be handled safely. Before residents are allowed to use these devices, staff should check that there are no signs of wear and tear, damage, or fraying to the power cords or material. If residents are sitting by fireplaces or using gas heaters to warm up, nursing home staff should ensure their rooms are equipped with updated, working carbon monoxide detectors to prevent hazardous carbon monoxide poisoning.

5. Ensure They Stay Warm Indoors

Elderly residents shouldn’t stay outdoors in the cold for very long. In fact, it’s best if they are kept out of the cold altogether. Indoor temperatures should be set to 65 degrees or higher to keep residents warm. Residents should keep a warm blanket over their legs and wear slippers and socks, especially on cold days. They should wear warm pajamas and long underwear, and use extra blankets in bed as needed.

Nursing Home Neglect in New York

Putting your elderly loved one or parent in a nursing home’s care is a bond of trust. A violation of this trust in the form of abuse or neglect can lead to your loved one suffering debilitating bedsores, infections, fractures, or other serious injuries or complications like hypothermia or winter safety neglect. It can also lead to death.

The personal injury lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP have extensive knowledge and experience in nursing home litigation and handling nursing home cases throughout New York for personal injuries and wrongful death.

Speak with a New York Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer at Dalli & Marino, LLP Today

Nursing home staff members have the responsibility to supervise residents and help them complete day-to-day living tasks such as showering, getting dressed, eating, and taking medication. They’re also responsible for the residents’ safety. Sadly, not all nursing home facilities fulfill their duties sufficiently. And, in the wintertime, icy conditions can make it more likely for residents to suffer from slips and falls. Cold and freezing temperatures can cause hypothermia and other injuries can occur.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has suffered an injury, mistreatment, or neglect at the hands of staff members, give our nursing home neglect lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP a call at (888) 465-8790 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation today.

3010 Eastchester Rd, Bronx, NY 10469

66-50 Myrtle Ave, Queens, NY 11385