Here in Michigan, we all know that wintertime is tough. We may prepare in the usual ways–dressing warm, turning up the heat, or wearing non-skid shoes–but there may be more we could do. We’ve collected a list of tips that you may not have known to help you stay safe this winter.
Don’t track water into the house. This might seem like common sense, but it can be easy to overlook. Sometimes we don’t want to expose our feet to the cold air as soon as we come inside, so we might leave our shoes on. It’s important, however, to remove your shoes when you enter your home if you’ve been walking on ice or snow. Wearing non-skid shoes helps outside, but bringing the water you’ve walked through into your home can create new hazards indoors.
Take care of your health, including your mental health. Of course, you should always be taking care of yourself, but the way you do so should change with the season. In the summer, we know to wear sunscreen outside and drink extra water, but what should we do in the winter? Because of the lack of sunlight, making intentional dietary changes to include more Vitamin D fortified foods can make a big difference. In addition, less sunlight can lead to wintertime depression, or contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It can be hard in bad weather, but making sure to keep up with social activity is important for your mental health during these gloomy months. If you have a friend or family member with difficulties getting out in the winter, try to pay them a visit! They’ll appreciate the company, and it’ll help both of you more than you realize. If you yourself have trouble going out, keeping up with family and friends with phone calls and social media can help as well.
Do check ups on your vehicles–this includes wheelchairs and power chairs. There’s a few good reasons to keep up car maintenance in the winter. Having things like the oil, battery, tires, and wipers checked on can be important to performance on the dangerous roads. Additionally, making sure your car is running well before the winter weather hits can save you from dealing with troubles later on that could leave you stuck in the cold. For the same reason, keeping your wheelchair or power chair tuned up is worth your efforts. Care.com credits Phyllis Buchanan for suggesting to “think of your wheelchair like your car” to prepare for the rough terrain ahead. Keeping an emergency kit on board in case of getting stuck is also recommended, and Phyllis suggests including items such as “protein bars, bottled water, hand warmers, and kitty litter to use for traction.”
Business owners, keep your facilities accessible. For this topic, we hear from Jackson Botsford, an Accessibility Specialist from our Advocacy department. Even if your building is built for accessibility, ice and snow present new challenges that should be addressed. Jackson’s first suggestion is to make sure that accessible parking spots are clearly marked with a sign, and that the surrounding area is clear of snow for ease of use for wheelchair users. He adds to that, stressing that the path from the parking lot to the door being shoveled should be a priority, along with the sidewalks, curb ramps, and any nearby bus stops. Snow is dangerous for walking commuters, but can completely limit access to uncleared areas for wheelchair users. Removing these barriers not only helps your business by helping more people in the door, but it also lets every costumer you have know that you are willing to serve them to the best of your abilities.
We hope that these tips gave you something to think about and help keep you safe this snowy season. Make sure you share this with others that may enjoy these tips!
Katey Berry – Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Jackson Botsford – Accessibility Specialist