by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
Winter weather conditions often create difficult and potentially hazardous conditions for people with visual impairments. Inclement weather can create many obstacles such as inaccessible sidewalks and crosswalks. And cold weather can be dangerous to one’s health as well. Here are some winter weather tips to get you through the winter safe and warm.
During the winter it can get really cold outside. When venturing outdoors, consider your wardrobe choices to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for the weather. Wear a coat that is suitable for your location. A hat with earflaps or a jacket with a hood makes it easier for those who rely on listening to their surroundings to orient themselves. Wear high-quality snow boots with appropriate insulation and tread to keep warm and prevent slips and falls. Protect your feet with thick socks and your hands with a quality pair of gloves or mittens that have thin material at the tips for easier identification of tactile objects like doorknobs or handles, keyholes, and buttons. And always make sure to dress in layers so that you can adjust your personal temperature by removing layers. Read more winter weather tips from Second-Sense here.
When navigating in snow, it can inhibit the use of mobility devices, such as a white cane, for individuals with vision loss. To ensure safety while walking in snowy conditions, the Chicago Lighthouse suggests that people who utilize white canes, which are generally good at detecting icy spots in and under snow, walk more slowly to avoid slips and falls. And if you use a service dog, keep in mind that the rock salt used to melt snow can injure your dog’s paws. To prevent damage and ensure their comfort and safety:
Apply paw wax to your dog’s pads each time you go outside. You can purchase a 7-ounce jar of Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Natural Dog Wax here for $24.99.
Put boots on your dog. You can purchase a set of 4 booties here for $34.95. The sizes range from petite to extra large so make sure to select the correct size for your dog.
When you’re going out into your community, be sure to bundle up and check the local weather, research your route, and allow for extra travel time. Read more winter weather tips from Chicago Lighthouse here.
When it’s cold outside and you’re at home, safe and warm, you can take precautions to ensure you and your family’s safety indoors. Check your carbon dioxide detectors and smoke alarms to make sure they’re functional and have fresh batteries. Create an emergency plan with your family so that all members know what to do in case the power goes out. Ahead of an imminent storm, refill your prescriptions and stock up on bottled water and nonperishable goods. And don’t forget about your pets or service dog’s needs as well. Stay safe and warm everyone! Read more winter weather tips from Easterseals here.