January is here which means so is the coldest part of winter. While cold weather is always dangerous, it can be epically dangerous for individuals with disabilities. Here are a few tips to make sure you keep warm and safe.

When going outside always dress with hats, scarves, and mittens. Even if the weather may not seem too cold temperatures can fluctuate quickly. What you might not need on your way out you might need on your way home. Mittens are especially important as only a few minutes of exposure can result in severe frostbite.

Remember to protect your eyes. Your eyes are especially sensitive to wind. Wearing oversized hoods and scarves can help keep the cold air off your eyes and face.

Keep an eye out for all severe weather warnings. If you think it “might” be too cold to go out, it probably is.

In snowy and icy conditions, it is better to use a manual wheelchair versus an electric wheelchair, as wheels can lock up easily and friction breaks can slip. Make sure your wheelchair is ready for the weather. Double check the wheel brakes lock securely and all joints and bolts are properly secured.

As a driver be mindful of handicap accessible parking. Leave extra room for ramp accessibility as even small piles of snow can make it difficult for an accessible vehicle to have enough ramp access. Allow for plenty of space for people to enter and exit accessible vehicles.

Lastly continue to maintain a healthy diet. While this is important year round, it can be especially important in the winter. Even something as simple as a short walk uses much more energy at colder temperatures. A healthy diet will help you recover from exercise quicker as well as from colds that may still be spreading around.

Winter isn’t going anywhere soon, and we should enjoy it as much as we can! Following these tips you can help you get the most out of the season while staying warm and safe.

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