Winter made its entrance in a big way for many of us across the US last week. With many inches of ice and snow comes a whole new set of issues for many people with disabilities. Not only do we have to think about keeping our sidewalks clear, maintaining our vehicles and getting to and from where we need to go like everyone else, there is often much more advanced planning ahead and effort required to get around.
Here’s some tips to help managing in the winter just a little bit easier:
- Keep an extra scarf and gloves in your vehicle or pack in a small bag and carry with you when the snow coats your gloves if you push a wheelchair so you are not stuck wearing sopping mittens.
- Consider a coat that will both keep your warm and that’s easy to maneuver in. When the temps drop everything, including fabrics and our bodies, become stiff and hard to move. You’ll be thankful for a flexible jacket that will still keep you warm. Consider looking for one with a hood attached – having to grab a hat will be one less thing to have to worry about when leaving the house.
- Throw a pair of hand warmers in your bag to tuck inside your gloves if you have a long way to push in your wheelchair. Pack an old rag or some paper towels in your bag or keep them in your car so when you get to where you’re going you can wipe down your wheelchair or other equipment and not be soaking once all that snow melts.
- Make sure to have an emergency snow plan in place for any home based care services you receive.
- Make a backup plan for any prescriptions you may have to get in case you are snowed in for a couple of days.
- Plan ahead. Know where you are going – is it shoveled? Can you easily access the building? Is the ramp covered in ice? If you answer yes to any of these consider calling ahead to see if someone from the building maintenance can assist you to and from or make arrangements for any support you might need.
- Carry a cell phone. Even an inexpensive prepaid plan will provide some peace of mind if you get stuck or need some help getting through the snow. Program emergency contact numbers in so they are easily accessible in case of emergency.
- Make your transportation as easy as possible. If you drive your own vehicle, consider an autostart to keep your vehicle toasty even in the coldest of temperatures. If you live in an urban area, the bus might be the most convenient option.
Above all, staying prepared can help the winter months pass by and before you know it all that snow will be just an inconvenient memory! How do you cope during the winter months? Share in the comments!