7 Tips for Parents of Children with Disabilities Braving the Cold


Snow Truck Plowing Snow

Snow Truck Plowing Snow

As we approach dangerously cold winter conditions, it is important to prepare and utilize our best options.  If you can avoid leaving your home, please do so.  This is probably the best option, but  it is an option that is not available to a lot of us.   We have to earn livings outside of our home, our children’s schools are open, or our living conditions may not be safe enough for us to remain in.

While venturing out into unforgiving cold effects both people with or without  disabilities. People with disabilities and parents/caregivers of people with disabilities face significant challenges.  Below are immediate actions you can take to prepare for the cold.

  1. Wear multiple layers of clothing, including a scarf around your neck, a winter hat, lined boots and two pairs of socks. Parents:pack extra changes of warm clothes in your children’s back packs.
  2. If your child is able to carry a cell phone, do so.  If not, make sure they have your contact information where you can be reached on their person.
  3. If you or your child utilizes a wheelchair, wrap a small blanket around your legs, tucking it underneath yourself or around your sides when traveling. This will help to maintain body heat. Wheelchair users may consider purchasing pneumatic tires for better traction. Another alternative for some circumstances is to use standard dirt bicycle tires.
  4. Use table salt or clay cat litter to clear ramps – rock salt can poison working assistance animals and also may be slippery.
  5. Remove the tires from your wheelchair and shake debris and ice off them before placing them in your vehicle. Wipe down any metal surfaces (wheelchair tire rims, walkers, etc.) as soon as possible after returning home. This will prevent rusting.
  6. In these frigid temperatures, it is important to stay hydrated.
  7. Dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, too. Whether you use a working assistance dog or are taking a pet outdoors, consider a dog coat and boots for your dog’s paws. Also, keep a blanket in your vehicle for your dog.

Things to Consider:

  • Using a wheelchair in snow can be strenuous, heavy wheeling – the added exertion could lead to a stroke or heart attack, particularly if you’re unaccustomed to it.
  • If you or your child utilizes a motorized wheelchair, try to have immediate access to a extra battery pack.
  • Never use an extension cord with a space heater. Ovens should not be used to heat homes.  (Warming centers are available, please contact 311 if your family needs to be taken to one.)

 Winter Resources:

Warming Centers



CDC:Winter Weather Checklists