Simple Tips and Tricks to Help You Out This Winter
Winter can create many challenges for everyone, but it really creates challenges for anyone with a disability. Snow, ice and freezing rain wreak havoc on roads, sidewalks, front porches, steps and on vehicles that are parked out in the elements. Maybe the most important winter accessibility tip we can offer is to clear driveways, sidewalks and other transportation paths thoroughly, making them free of snow as soon as possible after a snowfall. This can also help prevent the build up of ice if walkways and driveways are well cleared.
The important thing to remember is to have whoever is clearing snow make sure that the path that’s been cleared is wide enough for a wheelchair or motorized device to get through. This can mean clearing a path 32 to 36 inches wide in most cases. Try to keep the areas a person in a wheelchair needs to get through free from ice when that’s possible as well.
Specially created liquid de-icer that is also biodegradable can be an ideal product to use to help keep snow and ice from accumulating, and it can be found at many automotive stores and hardware stores. Often, aerosol versions can be found, or the solutions can be applied with a power sprayer. The aerosol versions are usually meant to clear off automobile windshields. This liquid de-icer acts to melt snow and ice, usually at a lower temperatures than salt.
Other Helpful Winter Disability Tips
There are products available that can help anyone with a disability to navigate the tricky obstacles created by winter weather. Some of the most helpful items include:
– Clip-On Flashlight – If you need to go out in winter weather at night, there are clip-on flashlights that can be affixed to a walker, cane or wheelchair to help you see more clearly. They’re usually light enough so they don’t affect balance, and are battery operated and adjustable to go from a spotlight to a flood light by just twisting them
– Rubberized Snow Mat – A type of snow carpet that usually measures about 10 feet long, and around 18 inches wide to create a useful path in places where shoveling is difficult
– Velcro – The soft side of Velcro can be attached to a cane or walker handle and it will stick to mittens or gloved hands to get a better grip
– Layered Clothing – Layers are always best in cold weather, and synthetic fabrics like polypropylene are usually a better choice because of their wicking action. Material like cotton will normally stay wet once it gets wet
– Quality Coat, Hats and Gloves – Accessories like high quality winter hats and gloves, along with a warm coat are crucial in any listing of winter disability tips, especially for anyone in a wheelchair or using a mobility device. Extremities like fingers and ears can begin to show signs of frostbite even when you may not realize that it’s happening. People with a disability can have conditions that affect muscles or blood flow that make them more susceptible to the cold
– Sunscreen in the Daytime – You might not even think of sunscreen, but when the bright sun is reflecting off of freshly fallen snow, sunburn can become a very real possibility. It’s important to apply sunscreen, especially if you plan to be outdoors for any length of time
– Bundle Up Service Animals – Don’t forget to keep your service animal warm as well with winter jackets especially sized and made for them, and items like animal sized boots that can keep ice and salt away from paws
– Specially Designed Walking Sticks and Poles – Walking sticks and specially designed hiking poles can be a great help when used on slippery sidewalks if you simply need a bit of help getting around. Poles and sticks are available that adjust for increased comfort and usability.
– Special Ice Tips for Canes and Crutches – You can find specially designed ice tips that can be affixed to canes and crutches. They work the way that studs work on snow tires, and can help to prevent slipping when using a cane or crutches
– Carry a Fully Charged Cell Phone – It’s important to have a cell phone with full battery power any time you attempt to leave home during freezing, snowy or icy weather. You want to be able to quickly send for emergency help if it becomes necessary
Good Tips for Inside the Home
Some good winter weather tips for inside your home include keeping areas like your entryway free of moisture by using a rubber, commercial quality doormat that can absorb wetness and trap salt and sand brought in from outdoors. Especially when someone in your home has mobility challenges, and uses a wheelchair, cane, walker, crutches or motorized scooter, you want to keep floors near your home’s entrances dry and clean to prevent slipping.
Some other winter weather tips for at home include having extra battery power for any medical devices that normally usually use electrical power in case the power goes out, and to keep extra non-perishable food in the home if you usually rely on delivered meals. It’s good to know you have food that’s easy to heat up should the delivery service be unable to get to your home until roadways are cleared.
Keep Necessary Equipment in Top Shape
It’s recommended to wipe off any piece of equipment that has been outdoors in snow, ice and slush with a dry cloth or towel as soon as possible after bringing it indoors. This is especially important for any metal surfaces like wheelchair tire rims, walkers or metal walking sticks. By doing this, you can keep the surfaces from rusting because of exposure to wetness and salt.
When you strive to follow any good winter weather tips, probably the most important things to pay attention to are dressing in layers and having extra clothing, gloves and blankets along in case you are temporarily stranded somewhere. Also, be sure to have flashlights and emergency flashers for use in case of car trouble.
Take Advantage of Available Services
Another great winter accessibility tip is to to register with any special needs registries available in your area. Registries can fulfill needs like food delivery or specialized transportation services. This is especially helpful if you need a four-wheel drive vehicle driven by a professional during unusually treacherous weather to get to critical medical services like dialysis, or to other medical appointments. Being smart and well prepared are the best ways to get through even the worst winter weather safely.