Saturday, September 2, 2017

"Wintertime Will Be Upon Us Before We Know It"

It's still hot outside in many parts of the country, but football season has begun and the kids have returned to school. Most people are settled back into their annual routines after having a summer full of camps, ball games, golf, tennis, vacations, and generous daylight hours conducive to other outdoor activities. 

As we enter September, it's not too early to begin thinking about winter. I know, fall isn't even here yet - officially. Still, wintertime, and especially the end-of-year holidays will be upon us very quickly.

People spend much of their time indoors as the days get cooler and the days grow shorter until nearly all at-home hours are spent indoors. Thus, it makes sense that we focus on remodeling and aging in place projects that will help people remain safe during the extended period of time that they are indoors - with the windows closed, the heat on, abbreviated daylight hours, and frequent inclement weather.

Remembering parts of the home that didn't serve people as well as they would have liked this winter will give us a starting point for completing projects that remain undone to get them ready for the season ahead. If we get started now, we can still work on windows, siding, roofing, foundations, basements, chimneys, or other areas of the home where the home may need to be open to the outside air for a period of time - but we need to act quickly. The cooler fall air is around the corner.

This time of year is when we need to make sure that those projects which were outlined or planned by people last fall or over the winter have been completed, If they remain, we can help them now to be sure they are ready for this winter. Maybe they thought they had more time to complete them so they put them off or they never got around to getting them started. Either way, they still need to be done.

As the time to move indoors approaches, people are going to need a safe environment that provides good lighting and a stable surface on which to stand and walk. They are going to be conducting nearly all of their activities indoors rather than dividing their time with the outside. Pools, summer or outdoor kitchens, patios, and other areas of socializing and family gathering will become less prominent and may not be used at all until the spring.

Outdoors, the lighting comes from the sun, Indoors it still can, but there are unlit or only partially lit areas where window light doesn't reach. Therefore, sufficient lighting, adequate contrasts, removal of tripping or stumbling hazards (rugs and other loose flooring materials, furniture, or objects stored in or near passageways), and wide areas for maneuvering in the kitchen, bathroom, and other spaces needs to evaluated and corrected.

Even with sunlight in the home, shorter daylight hours and stormy or overcast days mean that not as much light as was available during the summer will be present. This one item of home safety is frequently overlooked in planning renovation projects.

People are going to be having visitors more in the last part of the year as they host football viewing parties and holiday celebrations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and other events. Neighbors are going to be dropping by, friends will be visiting (invited or just showing up), and family from out-of-town will be coming - among all the people who will be coming to their home. We need to make sure that their home is ready to receive all of their visitors as well as being able to provide for their requirements during the indoor, colder months.

This is an opportunity for new business as well as time to make sure that the people we serve are adequately prepared for the coming wintertime.

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.