Elderly need monitoring during cold spells UPI 12/31/2012 2:53:05 AM CHICAGO, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Cold icy weather affects people -- especially the elderly, sick or frail -- even if they don't venture outdoors, a Chicago emergency medicine physician said. Dr. David Zich, an internal medicine and emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said when there is a blast of cold weather, people should check on neighbors and elderly relatives. Colder weather can put the elderly at higher risk for health problems and restrict them to their homes due to severe weather, he said. When sub-zero temperatures occur, be sure to check on elderly neighbors and relatives to make sure their home is adequately heated and they have the necessary food, medications and other items they need, and perhaps offer to put out their garbage. The household chore of taking out the trash has led to elderly people slipping on ice, falling and being stuck outdoors for hours. The same fate is possible for anyone, so taking a cellphone or a personal emergency alert button along is recommended. Zich said more home fires occur during the winter months than any other time of year. Take the proper precautions by having your furnace checked, your chimney inspected, and proper smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed. Make sure all electrical heaters are away from flammable materials, and that combustion heaters are well-vented and working properly, Zich said.