Navigating the Snow

I love the change of seasons that my area of the country brings, but not all weather is conducive to life on wheels. I don’t want to be a “fair weather friend” to Old Man Winter; I honestly like a good snow a couple times each winter. But navigating the snow can bring its own challenges when life needs to go on as scheduled.

I use a power chair the majority of the time, so getting through the snow is do-able most of the time: until the snow is blown into a drift up to your front door; or the snow melts enough to allow a brief escapade to the office or grocery store, but re-freezes when you come in late at night making the ramp too icy to get up.

Here are a few tips I have for navigating the snow:

  1. Simply stay at home. At my office we don’t get snow days, but most of the time I can work from home, if necessary. I find it’s better to stay off the roads and avoid crazy drivers, too.
  2. Know your Home Owner’s Association and neighbors. When I first moved into my condo, I made sure to read the policies on snow removal. My HOA has been great about removing snow (even at the side of my van where the ramp comes out). On the rare occasion when snow removal is slow in coming, I know I have friends and neighbors who will come to my rescue and clear a path. Be willing to ask for and accept their help.
  3. An automatic car starter is your best friend. I can’t remove snow/ice/frost from my windshield. Another wheelie friend recommended an automatic car starter. If you don’t have a garage, simply push a button from inside your warm house and… voila! Your vehicle is warm and the snow, ice or frost is melted from your windshield in about 10 to 15 minutes. Remember to put the defroster and blowers on high before turning your vehicle off.
  4. Keep your cell phone close by. The night I got stuck at the bottom of the icy ramp, I had to call a neighbor. Asking for help is difficult, but it was necessary due to the below-freezing temperatures.
  5. Give in: Enjoy the snow! Try adaptive winter sports. Go snow skiing, snow tubing or play sled hockey. Most ski areas offer adaptive equipment, as well as instructors and volunteers. It's worth trying, if only once.

With snow comes cold weather, so learn how to dress properly. When cold weather blows in, I bring out the layers. My body temperature can’t self-regulate and poor circulation makes my poor legs feel ice to the touch. Knee-high socks, leg warmers (under my pants: it’s no longer the ‘80s!) and boots help retain some warmth in my lower extremities. Mittens, that are easy to get on, are great for extended periods outdoors. Hats and scarves are winter accessories I’ve become obsessed with. Be stylish and warm!

Finally, stay active even during the winter months. If you can’t make it to a gym or do your normal activities, keep hand weights at the house. My rule: “If the TV turns on - the hand weights come out.” On those cloudy, cold days when you crave the warm sun and fresh spring air, the best substitute is to warm up by exercising and get some feel-good endorphins running through your system.

Stay warm and enjoy the beautiful snow.


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