Winter Weather Travel Tips for People
who are Physically Challenged
Winter weather creates tough travel conditions, especially for people with physical challenges. From digging out your car after the plows visit your neighborhood to dealing with driveways covered in snow and ice, it becomes extremely difficult to simply head to your car or bring out the garbage-- these simple tasks aren’t so simple anymore, especially for someone in a wheelchair or scooter. As a wheelchair user myself, I can tell you firsthand how challenging it is to move through the snow in my wheelchair.
Wild winter conditions can leave all types of travelers stranded on tarmacs or far from destinations during the season. It’s important to prepare yourself during the cold weather and snowy months when that weird weather can actually change your travel plans.
Here are several tips you can use to safely enjoy the rest of these winter months:
Use the buddy system. Have a friend or family member travel with you when it’s snowing or while there is snow or sleet on the ground. Doing so makes you less likely to slip when transferring into a mobility vehicle or going into a store. Keep someone nearby to help out during the winter months to ensure your safety and comfort in your travels, whether you’re going to the store or to a friend’s house.
Keep your vehicle near and dear. After you’ve stocked up on all of the essentials at the supermarket, have your friend or spouse bring the car as close to you as possible. Because of the bad weather, you want to be sure you can safely enter your car as quickly as possible to keep your wheelchair from getting stuck in the snow. You should also ask a salesclerk to escort you back to your car or even carry your packages to your vehicle. To prevent any parking problems, call ahead to the store to make sure that their handicapped parking spots having been used for snow storage.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Pay attention to your local weather advisories while planning for your trip. Even a quick trip to the gas station prior to a large snow storm may help make your life easier once you are able to travel again. Make sure you have everything you need in the house. If you need to go outside, be careful. In the event that you need a mobility vehicle last minute, call one of your local NMEDA dealers, like Bussani Mobility on Long Island, which can provide you with a vehicle.
Many wheelchair and scooter users own mobility vehicles that they can drive. If you are one of those drivers, there are several things to consider during the winter time. The snow may be beautiful, but it can also be inconvenient and dangerous when it comes to driving. Whether the forecast calls for heavy rain, lake effect snow or ice, you should always feel safe and secure driving your wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
Technology is the way to go. A remote start feature is an easy way to de-ice your windshield. You can turn your car on when you’re about ready to leave, and 5 minutes later you’ll be ready to go and able to see out the windshield. Shoveling is also a thing of the past. Heated driveways have become a very helpful way to avoid shoveling. Simply ask your local plumber or electrician about installing this handy tool, which will make it much easier to get in and out of the van without your ramp getting stuck in the snow.
Check for snow or puddles. Before you get into your mobility van, look for snow or rain puddles near the vehicle. If you have to back your wheelchair or scooter through the snow or a puddle, be sure to do it slowly so you don’t splash yourself or the scooter and ramp. The last thing you want is water in your van!
Keep a towel in the van. You’ll want to be able to wipe off any salt residue left on the van without having to go back inside the house to get a towel. If you see melted snow inside your mobility vehicle, clean it off with an old towel in order to prevent slipping when you transfer into the driver’s seat.
Keep an emergency kit. In addition to an old towel, keep essentials such as a light blanket, some bottled water, a cell phone charger and a fully-charged battery for your scooter. Consider adding an OnStar feature to your van to keep you safe in case your car skids off the road. In addition, keep an extra bottle of wiper fluid and make sure you have half a tank of gas at all times to ensure your safety in the event that gas stations are closed. These items will keep you safe and secure throughout the winter time and even into the spring.
If you have any questions about what else you can do to prepare for the snow with your mobility vehicle, contact your local BraunAbility dealer. Their mobility consultants are available to speak with you about keeping your vehicle winter-weather ready this season.