Winter has arrived and brought along cold weather, snowy days and icy sidewalks. These conditions can be dangerous for anyone, but especially for those who have physical challenges. There are several winter safety tips that everyone who is in a wheelchair and their caregivers should keep in mind during the cold winter months.
- Prepare Ahead of Time – Many wheelchair users transport themselves with their own mobility vehicles. If you are one of these drivers, you will want to prepare your vehicle to handle harsh weather conditions that snow storms bring to the streets. Make sure your vehicle has snow tires and is in proper working condition before the winter season arrives.
- Create a Home Emergency Kit – Create your very own at home emergency kit. Pack bottled water, blankets, socks, two fully-charged batteries for your wheelchair, canned food and keep your cellular phone charged at all times. You will also want to make a first aid kit part of your home emergency kit.
- Adopt the Buddy System – Keep a buddy with you during the winter months. Becoming snowed in can add stress to anyone’s life. If you are concerned that you will be home alone during a severe snow storm, ask a friend or family member to come ride out the storm at your place. This will allow you to remain in the comfort of your own home and have an extra set of hands to help build a fire in case the electricity goes out. If you are unable to get a buddy to stay with you try checking-in with family and friends throughout the day and especially during a winter storm.
- Stay Warm – Since heat escapes from the hands, feet and head the quickest, it is wise to make sure these parts of you are always warm. Keep an extra hat, set of gloves and pair of socks with you at all times. It’s best to keep these items in a bag that is easily accessible. In addition, it is wise to layer your clothing. This will allow you to feel comfortable all day long. If you are attending an outdoor event or going to the park in cold weather you should bring these same items along as well as a blanket.
- Put Snow Tires on Your Wheelchair – Snow tires aren’t just for your vehicle. There are special snow tires for wheelchairs too. These pneumatic tires are made out of soft rubber and are capable of gripping ice and snow. This will prevent your wheelchair from sliding on the ice or getting stuck in the snow.
- Have a Back-up Power Source – If you have an electric wheelchair or other medical equipment that requires electric power you will want to have a back-up power source. Portable generators are a great source for emergency power.
- Fill Your Prescriptions – Sometimes winter weather brings hazardous driving conditions and it can leave you trapped in your home for hours or even days. It is best to be prepared for these emergency situations. Before winter arrives, speak to your doctor regarding your prescription medication. You will always want to have your prescription filled so that you are never without it. This is a precaution that can save your life.
These important winter safety tips for people in wheelchairs will make your winter season go smoothly and reduce stress. Being prepared is essential to enjoying a great season. Remember to always ask for help from family members, friends and neighbours when you need it. There are surely many people around you that will enjoy keeping you company and helping you out during the winter season and most likely all year round.