picture of winter roads Cold Weather Safety After an SCI

For those of us who live in cold weather climates, winter means serious business. Impassable roads and power outages are a regular part of life. When you add to complications of a spinal cord injury, this wintery combination can be life-threatening. Navigating through the snow and ice conditions is only half the battle when there are dangers at home too.

Winter Dangers

When winter hits, it brings dangers that we don’t see in the warmer months. Snow and ice make getting around difficult and they make driving downright dangerous. Power outages can prevent medical equipment from running and shut down your home’s refrigerator and heating system. Frozen pipes can cause damage to your home and cut off your water source.

Winter can be a dangerous time, but with a little foresight and preparation, you can seriously minimize the risks that come with the colder weather.

Winter Preparation

Having a winter plan in place will put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy the winter – rather than spend your energy worrying about the potential dangers. As the old saying goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ With that, here are some ways to make sure you and your home are prepared for the winter season:

    • Flashlight & Batteries: The time to find backup lights is not after the power is already out. Having a flashlight and extra batteries in an easily accessible place will prevent a panic after the lights go out.
    • Food & Water: When the power goes out, so does your refrigerator, your stove, and possibly your water too. Having dry, non-perishable food and bottled water on hand will help you get through the crisis safely.
    • Blankets & Hand Warmers: Beyond your kitchen, power outages also affect your heating system. While running out of food can be a problem, losing your heat can quickly become life-threatening. Be prepared with warm clothes, blankets, and possibly hand warmers to get through a cold night without power.
    • Bundle up Outside: Even if the power if not out, make sure you bundle up when going outside. Many people who have sustained a spinal cord injury also suffer from low circulation. This can make it hard to maintain your body heat when outside on a cold day.
  • Asked to Be Checked On: It is hard to admit we need help, but one of the best ways to ensure your safety during winter is to ask a neighbor to check in. Even if we are totally prepared, the unexpected can still happen, so have someone stop by to make sure everything is ok.

Surviving the Winter

Getting through the winter isn’t all about surviving below zero temperatures and power outages. There is often an emotional toll as well, as the darker days and longer nights can lead to seasonal depression and anxiety. But by being prepared for the worst, we can help to remove an extra stress from our lives and focus on getting through the winter until the arrival of spring.

A little bit of preparation will go a long way toward ensuring our safety and mental health during the difficult winter months.