#1 – Have an emergency kit (in the car, at home)
Regardless of whether you have a physical disability or not, you should keep an emergency kit in your home as well as in your handicapped van or other vehicle.
The items you choose to include in your emergency kit can vary, but many people choose to include:
- Non-perishable food items
- First Aid supplies*
*If you or someone you know has a physical disability, you will want to check with a physician to confirm what other items you may want to include in an emergency kit. For example:
Backup supply for electrical-powered mobility equipment
- Oxygen tank
- Extra medications (prescription & non-prescription)
- Hearing aids
#2 – Have an emergency plan.
Does your physical disability require the use of a service pet or caregiver assistance? Speak to your family, physician, and caregiver about an emergency plan in the even that there is bad winter weather or power outages.
Consider nearby shelters, or hospitals that can accommodate your special needs should an emergency arise. Be sure that your neighbors are included and are aware of your needs, just in case assistance is needed.
#3 – Avoid going outdoors unless absolutely necessary.
In icy conditions, it is best to remain indoors. Roads are unsafe to drive on , and even if you feel confident in your driving abilities, you may not be able to predict the behavior of other drivers when there is inclement weather present.
#4 – Keep your cell phone charged.
Know that bad weather is on the way? Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. It may be helpful to have a backup battery for your cell phone just in case. Never charge your phone in your vehicle with the garage door closed.
#5 – Be aware of the needs of your service pet.
Just like humans, dogs can suffer frostbite and hypothermia. Avoid venturing outside, and avoid letting your dog outside for extended periods of time. If you do find yourself on the road, be sure to keep an extra blanket and extra water for your service dog.
#6 – Dress in layers.
When bad weather hits during the weather, it is always best to be dressed in layers in case the power goes out or in the event that you have to be evacuated from your home.
#7 – Have a list of emergency numbers handy.
Keep a list of important phone numbers handy. While it is great to include these phone numbers in your cell phone, it is best to also have them written down in a phone book and safely stored nearby (in case the power goes out or your cell phone dies).
Be sure to let your emergency contacts know that they are your emergency contacts.
#8 – Winterize your handicap van.
Be one step ahead of any winter weather situation by making sure the gas tank in your handicap van is kept full. A full gas tank will help keep your fuel line from freezing.
#9 – Consider alternative heating methods.
Have a wood burning fireplace in your home? Make sure you keep your fireplaces and other heating sources cleaned and inspected regularly. In the event that the power is out for an extended period of time, you may be able to use alternate heating sources.
#10 – Keep sand, kitty litter, or rock salt handy.
Patios, front door areas, driveways, sidewalks, steps, etc. are all danger zones for people with and without physical disabilities whenever winter weather hits. Having sand, salt, or kitty litter to spread down can give more traction and prevent nasty falls.