As you start to winterize your house for the upcoming season, remember to check the homes of your loved ones who are older, differently abled, or just not good about thinking ahead. It's mid September as I write this, but with all the stuff we do to our own homes and gardens, we tend to forget other's homes until it's already cold and difficult to deal with. If nothing else, looking at it soon will let you know how much needs to be done, and allows time to schedule other people for help if needed.
I'm starting to check and change our lights, the smoke from the fires out west are keeping the sky grey, like it was winter, reminds me that soon we will need our winter lights. An exercise I gave in another post ( Gifts for challenged people ) is to put on dark sunglasses, walk into an older person's home, and realize that on a bad day, that is quite probably what is visible to aging eyes. What needs the lighting amplified? What trip hazards need to be mitigated? Porch lights might need to be brighter also, and stair railings checked for sturdiness before ice is an issue.
Check the plumbing outside and under the house for small drips, that will make a pipe break when it's really inconvenient to fix. I'd much rather replace a pipe fitting now than when I'm laying in freezing mud. I have done both, I prefer to schedule it well :D
What else is worth thinking about this early, to make later less work?
Moving snowshovels and snowblowers to the front of the shed, digging out extension cords for the block heaters and starting the snowblower, the finding and filling buckets we use for sand, finding windhield scrapers, setting ot the drain pipe extenders that keep melt water away from the foundation... yawn.
The leaves are barely turning colours yet, we just had our first frost, so its still summer in my book, not even fall yet!
I know LED bulbs are not some people's first choice, but I use them due to the low power use. If you are putting brighter lights in your home or someone else's, like an elderly person, consider looking for 16 watt LEDs. They look like standard A19 bulbs you are familiar with, but are 100 watt replacements. They LIGHT UP an area! I put one in the dark garage here, oh MY is that nice! I bought Halco #84976 and am very pleased with them. I wish, in this town of older folks I live in, I could buy several cases of them and give them away and install them in people's houses for them, it would stop a bunch of the broken bones I see due to falls.
On that post I linked I also mentioned timers for lights.
Another trick I use for lighting is timers that turn lights on automatically. We use all the natural window lighting we can, but I have good bright lights on timers, set to come on 1/2 hour before dark, and stay on till the time we go to bed. (Don't forget to adjust them as the season changes!) Especially in winter, they are wonderful. We don't tend to notice it's getting dark and get up to turn on a light until its IS dark, then you are looking for light switches in bad visibility, and that's when falls happen. A cat or dog runs under your feet when you don't see them, and it can be very bad. It's also great to go to bed with good lighting, and know it'll shut itself off. Turning off the lights as you go to bed is a dark trip hazard. Hall lights on timers might be excellent.
Since I wrote that, the lady diagonally across the street did exactly that, tripped over the dog, broke her hip, had to go live at her daughter's because her house has steps, ended up in a nursing home because she didn't get along with the daughter, caught the flu and died of pneumonia, and her house was repo'd and flipped this summer. The new owners haven't moved in yet. This happens more than most people want to think about. And generally, it starts with a preventable fall. It's called the Precipitating Incident, and it's where things can possibly be changed.
Part of what inspired me to write this was the neighbor across the street, an older lady, who does not think ahead, was telling me yesterday "I'm having such severe vertigo I can't drive, my friend is driving me places." I mentioned to her later that she really needs to get the steps made less steep and a decent rail put on "Oh, I never go up those steps!" Um, you just DID when she dropped you off... "Well, that's only because I can't drive right now." So you are having severe vertigo, and think steep steps with a crappy rail is still fine? And she can afford to have the steps done. But she won't. And I watch to see if she falls every time she goes in, if I can. One day her friend (as old as her) fell on the steps, and she fell on the porch as she turned to see what had happened behind her. I get frustrated. She won't listen, I'm not rich enough to just make it happen, and I wish there was a way to help other people who ARE open to it. So I throw it out here, in hopes of it making someone think about people they care about.
Permaculture is about looking at patterns, and fixing the actual systemic causes of problems, so the later effects are what we want. Caring about other people can be seen that way too, helping eliminate the Precipitating Incidents that cause the landslide that leads to disability or death. because it happens that way, WAY too often. Removing things that will just be inconvenient (like fixing the pipes now, pruning the bushes while it's convenient so more light gets into the house) is also looking at the patterns, and using our awareness to mitigate later problems. And caring about other people is definitely permaculture :D
If turning off the light is proving a problem you can buy light bulbs with remote controls. I don't mean smart lights from a smart phone I just mean a LED bulb that has it's own remote, they screw into a standard socket. we have one in our living room because the light switch is on the opposite side of the room from the door we use, and trying to make it all the way across the room avoiding a coffee table and various abandoned chairs gets old fast.
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