Beyond Brrrr: Stay Safe During Record-Breaking Freeze

This isn’t just cold, this is a life-threatening freeze that’s breaking decades-old records across a huge swath of the country. So far, 20 storm-related deaths have been reported, including three people in Chicago who died while shoveling snow. Called a “polar vortex,” for the whirlpool of bitterly cold air that has descended from Minnesota to Alabama, residents are being warned to stay indoors and take precautions if they need to venture outside. Even Southern states are bracing for record low …

Don’t Fall! Tips for Staying Safe in Icy Conditions

Slips and falls during the winter months are all too common, say the orthopedists who take care of all the bone breaks, muscle tears and sprains that happen this season. And now that the Northeast has been hammered with a monster storm, it’s even more important for older folks to be careful about falling or suffering injuries while shoveling snow. Keep in mind that 11,500 people are sent to the emergency room each year with snow-shoveling injuries, and those 55 …

What’s Hot? Cold Weather Scams

Recent falling temperatures in parts of the U.S. have prompted a new wave of a time-tested power play – fraudsters posing as utility company workers who threaten to shut off your service because of supposedly unpaid bills. The Shutoff Swindle has prompted warnings in recent weeks from utility companies from Maine to Washington state, including in (usually) warmer-weather states such as Texas. Typically, this scam occurs by telephone. Callers claim to be billing representatives from your utility company. They say you’ve …

Stoke the Flames With These Fireplace Tips

In many parts of the country, it’s time to stoke up the fireplace or woodstove for a little extra heat. Here are some hearth-warming tips to keep in mind: Heating With Wood Can Save: According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, burning one cord of wood generates the heat equivalent of  200 gallons to 250 gallons of fuel oil. Based on our most recent fuel oil bills and the cost of a cord of wood from a firewood supplier, that much …

Programmable Thermostats: Savings or Not?

A couple of years ago I wrote an article for AARP about simple ways to reduce the cost of heating your home. After reading it, my wife promptly added a number of the energy-saving tips I’d suggested to my “honey-do” list, including installing three programmable thermostats around our house. The good news was that the new thermostats were inexpensive and easy to install. We found a three-pack on sale at a home improvement center for  $70, and, much to my …

A Winter’s Tale: Helping Seniors Weather the Cold

There’s a woman who sits in the square outside my office. Her name is Anna, and she’s 92. Her caregiver Magda wheels her there, just a couple blocks from her apartment, so she can feed the birds. Or, as Anna, a lifelong New Yorker, says, “the boyds.” Seeing Anna in the square is like seeing my friend Arthur at the theater. It’s her happy place. She could spend hours there, watching the boyds fly up to the rooftops and down …